Stefanik criticized in conservative op-ed

Candidate Elise Stefanik (R) speaks at a debate held by Spectrum News at its studio in Albany on Monday. (Photo — Jenn March, Special to the Post-Star)

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, has been working since the midterms to have the Republican Party take a hard look at the candidates it is electing, especially the lack of women. She has already clashed with the new chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Tom Emmer, over her focus on recruiting women in primaries rather than during general elections.

On Sunday, however, she was the subject of an op-ed in the conservative Washington Examiner saying the Republican party needs more women — but not women like her.

The author, Neil Dwyer, attacked Stefanik from the right, criticizing her for supporting the final version of the Farm Bill, voting against the most recent Republican-backed tax bill and several other votes. Stefanik, he argued, was too moderate — if the GOP really wanted to elect more women, it should focus on truly conservative candidates to rally the base.

“Republicans who want to limit Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s second term as speaker to two years need to find women who serve as a counterpoint to the Women’s March, women who can speak directly to the mothers in these suburban districts and appeal to their family values, which include treasuring life, security (which includes immigration), and prosperity,” he wrote in closing. “Recruiting women for the sake of optics will get the party nowhere.”

Stefanik led recruitment for the NRCC before the midterms and had more than 100 women who registered to run for Congress. Many of these women, however, never made it through their primaries, and when they did, more of them lost in the general election, leaving Stefanik as one of just a dozen Republican women in the House.

Stefanik’s office declined to elaborate on the op-ed but did refer the Times to her Twitter page.

“We need more #GOPWomen of ALL ideological perspectives of the Republican Party. Not only those of a particular ‘mold.’ I am proud to have won my election by the largest margin of any Congressional Republican in the NE,” she wrote.

The op-ed quickly drew criticism from prominent Republicans, like Weekly Standard founder and political analyst Bill Kristol, who tweeted, “Can’t say I’ve ever used the term before, but this is a pretty striking instance of idiotic mansplaining: An impressive young Republican congresswoman who wins in a competitive seat isn’t the kind of woman ‘we need.'”

Former New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro also criticized the op-ed, tweeting, “Read the article. This is insulting, utter nonsense. @EliseStefanik represents her district & voters sent her back to Washington with record support. More importantly, representatives should reflect their districts not some third party’s view of what’s right.”

Several online outlets, including RedState, published op-eds refuting the Washington Examiner argument, while the conservative blog Reagan Battalion tried to use the backlash to boost Stefanik’s Twitter followers.

Stefanik continues her recruitment efforts. On Wednesday, she tweeted a link to a launch event for her E-PAC later this month in D.C.

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