GOP largely silent on presidential election
More than two weeks after Joe Biden was declared the president-elect, local Republican officials have been largely silent about President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede and assist in the transition.
Trump has claimed the election was marked by widespread fraud but has lost legal challenges of the results. Some national GOP officials are calling on him to concede, or at least allow Biden to have access to intelligence briefings and other agency materials to assist in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the weekend, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called on him to either produce evidence of fraud or accept defeat.
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, has refused to comment on the issue, not responding to repeated inquiries from media outlets, including The Post-Star, sent to her staff.
The only mention of the presidential election that Stefanik had on her social media was a tweet from her personal account on Nov. 6, the day before Biden was declared president-elect, that said: “Decision Desks don’t decide elections! The legal votes of the American people do! Count every LEGAL ballot.”
During the last two weeks, Stefanik’s personal Twitter feed has been filled with posts and retweets of articles about the record number of Republican women elected to Congress. Stefanik founded E-PAC, which endorses and funds female GOP candidates.
Stefanik also was on Sean Hannity’s Fox News television show twice. She appeared on Nov. 11 with California U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes to talk about Biden’s discussions with world leaders in preparation for taking office.
They said Michael Flynn, who was briefly Trump’s national security adviser, was accused of violating the Logan Act for doing the same thing.
“It’s the absolute height of hypocrisy. What is most hypocritical about this is Joe Biden himself was in the Oval Office meeting when they floated the idea of bringing up the Logan Act to persecute Michael Flynn,” Stefanik said on the show.
The Logan Act bars private citizens from negotiating with foreign powers in disputes with the United States.
Flynn resigned as Trump’s national security adviser after reports he had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with a Russian official before Trump took office. Flynn was never prosecuted under the Logan Act.
Stefanik also appeared on Hannity’s Nov. 19 show to talk about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s insistence that police enforce the 10-person limit on family gatherings during Thanksgiving.
“People should have the freedoms to make the right decision based upon their personal health, their family situation,” she said.
Stefanik called Cuomo “the worst governor in America,” a phrase she also used in a Nov. 17 tweet about the raise he was set to receive, before he refused it. She also used the phrase on Nov. 18 after an outburst by Cuomo during a press briefing, when he was asked whether New York City schools were going to be closed.
Stefanik also appeared on the Newsmax TV show “Spicer & Co.,” hosted by former Trump press spokesman Sean Spicer, to talk about the record number of Republican women being elected to Congress.
Stefanik’s office has sent out press releases covering topics such as extension of the closure of the U.S.-Canada border, passage of legislation requiring drug manufacturers and distributors to notify the Drug Enforcement Administration when they discover suspicious orders, funding for Warren County Head Start and her questioning of military leaders about operations in Afghanistan.
Her official Twitter account and Facebook page touch on these same issues. Some commenters on her Facebook posts expressed concern that she is not speaking out about Trump’s failure to concede. A few other posters are saying she has not been vocal enough in supporting the president.
Local GOP reaction
Local Republican officials also have stayed quiet. State Sen.-elect Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, did not return two messages seeking comment. Stec is succeeding retiring Sen. Betty Little.
Little, R-Queensbury, defended the right of President Trump to pursue legal challenges to ensure the accuracy of the votes.
“Certainly in the presidential race with Al Gore, they checked everything out before they conceded as well,” she said, referring to the 2000 race that came down to a Florida recount.
She said the high number of mail-in ballots this year complicated the race.
“I think there are problems with mail-in ballots, which are different than absentee ballots,” she said.
Little added that states have different standards in terms of what is required to submit a mail-in ballot. Some states require people to submit proof of identification when they return a ballot.
“It seems uniformity among the states would help,” she said.
Little acknowledged Trump needs to wrap up these legal challenges.
“It looks like the timing is such that we’re going to have to come to the end of this,” she said.
She said the president would assist in the transition.
Asked about the rancorous state of the national political scene, she said she hopes it changes but is not optimistic.
“It became very contentious and very difficult,” she said.
Assemblyman-elect Matt Simpson, R-Horicon, had little to say about the presidential election. He said he had not paid much attention to the issue of the transition as he decompresses from a yearlong campaign to win the 114th Assembly District seat.
“It’s hard to get caught up in the national politics after I was so focused on what I was doing,” he said.
He said he did not have enough information to say whether Trump’s challenges are legitimate.
“I think it should be an accurate election,” he said.
State Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-Halfmoon, did not return a message seeking comment.
When contacted, interim Warren County GOP Chairman Bill VanNess said he would comment after he got off the clock from his job as Republican commissioner for the Warren County Board of Elections. He did not call back.