Local Congress race draws New York Times coverage

(Cobb photo by Watertown Daily Times, Stefanik photo by Post-Star)

The race to represent New York’s 21st Congressional District has attracted the attention of The New York Times.

A story that appeared on Friday highlighted the fact that this is the only race in New York state to feature two female candidates, with Republican U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, being challenged by Democrat Tedra Cobb.

The article said the race is not so much about gender politics but rather “the issues affecting rural residents, from job growth and access to health care to milk prices — and who best can address them.”

The battle over gun control is also a focus of the story, which mentions the video that was recorded at a Teens for Tedra event back in May, in which Cobb was heard saying that she supports an assault weapons ban but cannot take that stance publicly and get elected.

Cobb has criticized Stefanik’s support for a measure allowing other states to recognize any state’s concealed carry permit.

Stefanik is quoted that she believes Cobb’s admission is “a form of lying.”

The article acknowledges that the district is considered reliably Republican, but Cobb is focusing on poverty and health care. Cobb said that she briefly collected federal assistance to pay for infant formula after she and her husband struggled to make ends meet after the birth of her second child.

Cobb also has hit Stefanik with the charge of being a “carpetbagger.” Stefanik was born in the Albany area, but her family spent summers at their Willsboro home.

The article says Stefanik is one of the more conservative House members but has criticized Trump following his summit with Vladimir Putin.

Order of finish

Democratic candidate Katie Wilson leapfrogged Dylan Ratigan to take second place in the June primary, according to a tabulation of the official results from the counties.

Ratigan had finished second on primary night with 2,200 votes compared with 2,157 for Wilson. However, after factoring absentee ballots, Wilson finished with 2,395 votes, which gave her a 39-vote lead over Ratigan.

The strongest county for both was Clinton County.

Cobb had more votes than her four opponents combined, with 11,092. Emily Martz finished in fourth with 2,204 votes, and Patrick Nelson finished fifth with 1,854.

Martz is running against in the 45th Senate District against incumbent Republican Sen. Elizabeth Little. Wilson said she is staying involved in politics but not running for anything this cycle.

The New York State Board of Elections is set to certify the results at its Aug. 8 meeting.

Health care bills

Stefanik has voted in favor of two bills to provide tax credits for less comprehensive health care plans and allow people to use health savings accounts to pay for over-the-counter medication.

Stefanik voted in favor of H.R. 6199, which would allow people to use health savings and flexible spending accounts to pay for over-the-counter drugs and menstrual care products. Under the Affordable Care Act, the accounts currently can only be used for prescription drugs or insulin. The bill passed 277-142 and now heads to the Senate.

Stefanik also was one of 242 House members who voted yes on H.R. 6311, which would offer a tax credit to buy health care plans that are less comprehensive than what is required under the Affordable Care Act. It would also suspend the health insurance tax for an additional two years until 2020.

Both bills face an uncertain future in the Senate, with no more than a 40 percent chance of being enacted, according to an analysis by the Skopos Labs on the GovTrack website.

Expanding broadband

The House last week passed the Access Broadband Act.

Stefanik said she co-sponsored the legislation with U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, which requires the Department of Commerce to establish the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth.

This office would connect with communities that need high-speed internet, hold regional workshops to share best practices for expanding broadband, develop broadband training for various demographic groups, distribute publications to give communities guidance on how to expand broadband and track construction of any broadband infrastructure using federal money, according to a news release.

“Increasing access to broadband in our district is critical to ensuring our businesses can compete, our economy can grow, and our children have access to the best educational resources,” Stefanik said in a news release.

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