Cobb, in interview, says early start will help her reach more voters

Tedra Cobb speaks to the editorial board of the Post-Star newspaper in Glens Falls on Friday. (Provided photo — Michael Goot, The Post-Star)

GLENS FALLS — Some people may think it’s too early to start campaigning for an election still 18 months away, but Tedra Cobb said she wants to make sure she meets as many people as she can in the 17,000-square-mile NY-21 Congressional District.

Cobb, a Democrat, on Monday officially declared her candidacy to run in a rematch against U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, in 2020.

The Canton resident said she was able to close the percentage gap in NY-21, losing to Stefanik 56% to 42% in 2018, which more than cut in half the 65%-30% advantage Stefanik had over Mike Derrick in 2016.

Cobb believes she can close that gap all the way in another campaign. To do that, Cobb said, more people have to know about her experience of being a St. Lawrence County legislator, serving as a volunteer firefighter and on the boards of a domestic violence agency and Hospice and of her work in starting a health care nonprofit.

“That lets people know who I am and the depth of my commitment to the people who I hope to serve,” she said Friday in a meeting with The Post-Star editorial board.

Cobb said she plans to focus on similar issues as last time, including health care access, the economy and the environment.

Health care is also an economic issue, she said. Cobb said she has an insurance plan with a $16,000 premium and $10,000 deductible. A business could use that $26,000 to hire another person.

There is still insufficient coverage for mental health and addiction, she said.

Cobb criticized Stefanik for voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan that covered pre-existing conditions. Cobb’s goal is portable, affordable and accessible health care.

She also criticized Stefanik’s environmental votes.

“We are now breathing the pollution from the coal that she voted to dump in those rivers. She can’t take money from coal companies and then side with clean air and clean water,” she said.

Cobb said it is possible to have a market-driven environmental policy that protects union and fair wage jobs.

“Take oil and gas subsidies away,” she said.

Cobb criticized Stefanik’s recent vote against the Violence Against Women Act and her vote against the Paycheck Fairness Act.

“She has chosen to side with her corporate donors and has voted against the interests of the people that she should serve,” Cobb said.

Cobb said that the country has to be welcoming to others and has a duty to fix its immigration system. Some people serving at Fort Drum are children of immigrants who came to this country illegally, she said.

“They need to be treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve,” she said.

Cobb said she again will not take money from corporate political action committees.

“The money is from people who are invested in having real representation,” she said.

Cobb pointed out that 96% of the contributions received by Stefanik in the first quarter of the year came from outside the district, according to an analysis by The Post-Star.

“To me, it says that we have the momentum from the people in the district and she’s lost momentum and has to rely even more on corporations and people from outside of the district,” Cobb said.

Cobb said the election comes down to a choice between someone who has lived and worked in the community for 30 years and someone like Stefanik, who chose to move into the district to run for the seat.

Stefanik’s campaign went negative right out of the gate. Cobb said she plans to stay positive and talk about her voting record, while responding to attacks.

“That doesn’t mean I don’t feel hurt at some point, but that means I have to work through that so I can focus on the issues,” she said.

Cobb said she hopes to break the partisan gridlock. She said most people are focused on “kitchen table” issues, such as aging with dignity, health care and economic security and do not want to get distracted by the “cacophony” of Washington partisanship.

Cobb said she is willing to listen to people of all parties.

“I look at the idea on its merits,” she said.

She will not be actively campaigning until the summer, she said. She was confident about her chances, noting that President Obama won this district in 2008 and 2012 before Trump did in 2016.

“In this district, people vote for the person, and that’s why I said I’ve got to get out there and let people know who I am,” she said.