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Stefanik not planning presidential run

Rep. Elise Stefanik gives a victory speech on election night, Nov. 3, at the Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls. (Provided photo — Christopher Lenney, Watertown Daily Times)

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, said she is not laying groundwork to run for president in 2028, no matter what Donald Trump might think.

“I’m not planning on that,” she said in a telephone interview last Tuesday.

Trump, when he introduced Stefanik at a political fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 12, said, “Man is she moving fast. That means at this rate she’ll be president in about six years,” The New York Post reported.

“That’s a very kind thing that President Trump said, but no announcement,” Stefanik said.

Not a prediction

She said she is focused on the congressional district, on her role as the No. 3 leader in the House Republican Conference and on being a mom.

Earlier in the week, St. Lawrence County Republican Chairwoman Connie Elen said she interpreted Trump’s comment as a humorous quip, not a prediction.

“I have to say that with a child less than 1 year old, she’s not going to be running for any office other than Congress soon,” Elen said.

Matt Putorti and Matt Castelli, two of the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Stefanik in November, recently criticized her for voting in the House by proxy the same day that she attended the Florida fundraiser.

Child care, workforce training priorities Among other topics in a wide-ranging interview, Stefanik said child care and workforce development are important issues that have not gotten much attention in the national media.

Stefanik said she is attempting to build support for legislation she introduced in May to allow states, if they wish, to provide federal COVID-19 relief funding to small businesses, known as family child care networks, which provide child care in a home-based setting.

Stefanik said chambers of commerce and businesses in the district asked her to advocate for the concept.

There often is a shortage of traditional child care centers in rural areas, she said.

The proposed legislation — HR 3545 — has not gained traction, so far.

As of Tuesday, it had just three co-sponsors, all Republican, the most recent of which signed on July 1, according to The Library of Congress government information website.

In December, Stefanik introduced legislation intended to offer business owners a larger role in the design of workforce training programs.

The legislation — HR 6255 — would allow federal workforce training funds to be used for “Employer Directed Skills Accounts,” in which employers would pay a portion of costs for programs they help design, and would guarantee employment to individuals that successfully complete the training program.

The legislation had two co-sponsors, both Republican, as of Wednesday.

Stefanik said legislation that she co-sponsored to establish a five-year demonstration program in the Department of Veterans Affairs to use veterans to train service dogs and place the dogs with veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and depression has a good chance of passing the House this year.

Stefanik was an original co-sponsor of the legislation — HR 1446 — introduced in March 2021.

The legislation had 317 co-sponsors — 197 Republicans and 120 Democrats — as of Wednesday.

“I think that is one thing that we can get done in this polarized environment,” she said.

Response to Jan. 6 Four candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Stefanik in November: Castelli, a former CIA counterterrorism official from Wilton; Bridie Farrell, a political activist and former competitive skater from North River; Putorti, a lawyer from Whitehall; and Ezra Watson, a technician from Wilton.

Democratic candidates have focused on Stefanik’s vote against certifying the 2020 presidential election, and have alleged that she has not been vocal enough in criticizing the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol by Trump supporters.

Stefanik said the she believes there are questions about the process of counting and verifying votes.

She said she has been clear in House remarks and in statements about her stance on the Jan. 6 invasion.

Most recently, on Jan. 6, 2022, she said in a statement: “On Jan. 6, 2021, I strongly and clearly condemned the violence and destruction that occurred at the U.S. Capitol — just as I strongly condemned the entire year of violence and lawlessness that raged across our nation throughout 2020.”

Stefanik said she is excited about the potential of Republican women House candidates that she has endorsed and is supporting through her E-PAC political action committee.

She said that she will be announcing another round of endorsements in about a month.

She would not say if she plans to endorse in the Wyoming House race where Rep. Liz Cheney faces a Republican challenge from four opponents, including one that Trump has endorsed.

“You’ll have to wait for the announcement to find out,” Stefanik said.

Stefanik replaced Cheney as House Republican Conference chair, the No. 3 leadership position, in May.

Stefanik’s E-PAC endorsed and financially supported Cheney’s House campaigns in 2020 and 2018.

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