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Rep. Stefanik’s newfound stardom has unintended consequences

Rep. Elise Stefanik is learning that political stardom can have unintended consequences.

In the weekend after our congresswoman used her position on the House Intelligence Committee to defend President Trump and attack Rep. Adam Schiff, liberal organizations made her a target and her opponent, Tedra Cobb, a million times more formidable.

In the weekend after Rep. Stefanik drew praise from President Trump for saying he did nothing wrong, Cobb received over $1 million in donations as liberal groups rallied against Stefanik.

That’s significant, because it makes Cobb a player in the election, money-wise.

According to opensecrets.org, Rep. Stefanik raised $1.3 million as of Sept. 30, so it temporarily leveled the playing field in the race.

But not for long.

Not to be outdone, Rep. Stefanik used her appearance on the show of Fox commentator Sean Hannity as an opportunity to add another $500,000 to her campaign funds. I’m sure there is a lot more where that came from, because if Rep. Stefanik has a strength, it is raising money.

It’s a hell of a way to run an election, and it could be just the beginning of even more outside money.

Congresswoman Stefanik has previously positioned herself as her own woman, willing to stand up to President Trump with moderate positions and votes. Those days are over.

Her performance during the impeachment hearings was purely a political exercise meant to strengthen her national position in the Republican Party.

Mission accomplished.

Her conclusion that President Trump did nothing wrong flies in the face of the testimony of U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who, when asked if there was a quid pro quo, said, “Yes. Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.”

Her conclusion that there is nothing to see here should concern us all, because it indicates her future decisions will be based on what is best for her political career and not her constituents.

Rep. Stefanik provided her party with a rare female voice on the national stage in exchange for a place as the next star of the party, where she can now appear on Fox talk shows and further raise her profile and funds.

I don’t see how any of this is helping the farmers, the folks without health insurance or the small towns struggling to survive all around her district.

Isn’t that why she was sent to Congress?

What frightens me the most is that the congressional election in our rural district of upstate New York is quickly slipping away from our control. Even if there are two or three debates between the two candidates, it will not be decided by issues and debate between the candidates, but by who has the most money to buy the slickest, meanest and most negative ads online and on television.

We are already seeing it.

Just before the start of “60 Minutes” Sunday night, there was a short ad paid for by the liberal group moveon.org.

The voiceover said, “Donald Trump committed bribery.”

Then it urged the viewer, “Tell Rep. Stefanik: Defend Democracy. Impeach Trump.”

Rep. Stefanik quickly responded with her own attack ads against Cobb.

Who will represent the residents of the 21st Congressional District has become a referendum on Donald Trump to be decided by national organizations that couldn’t tell you the difference between Lake Placid and Lake George.

We all know this is going to get worse as we get a front row seat to national politics.

We will hear lies and misinformation and many of us will not know what to believe or think.

Just like in national politics.

And we have Rep. Stefanik to thank for that.

Ken Tingley is editor of The Post-Star in Glens Falls.