QUEENSBURY — Democratic NY-21 candidate Tedra Cobb criticized U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, as a Washington insider who cares more about her corporate donors and helping other candidates than her constituents.
“I have spent my entire career trying to make sure people get health care. Elise Stefanik has spent her entire career trying to take it away,” Cobb said a campaign kickoff event Tuesday morning at the Chicken Coop Forge artisan workshop on Corinth Road.
About 50 Cobb supporters attended the event, which also featured a handful of pro-Stefanik constituents, and a large news media contingent.
Cobb’s profile has been raised and a million dollars in three days as people from across the country donated to her campaign because she is running against Stefanik, who has taken a high-profile role in questioning some witnesses in the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry.
Like last time, Cobb is focusing on health issues. Cobb said Stefanik’s vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act would have caused 64,000 constituents to lose health care and have more difficulty accessing services to assist in addiction recovery.
Cobb criticized Stefanik for her votes on Social Security and Medicare, and Cobb said she would not vote to cut either program.
Cobb also promised to protect the environment, which has been hurt with rollbacks under President Donald Trump.
“Our health, our farmers and our tourism industry all depend on clean air and clean water,” he said.
Cobb said her past experience as a St. Lawrence County legislator would be an asset in Washington, which she called dysfunctional.
“While I had disagreements with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, we worked together to solve problems,” she said.
Cobb faces hecklers
Cobb said Stefanik ignores the needs of her constituents and even has them arrested — referring to six people who were arrested for refusing to leave Stefanik’s Glens Falls office during an Aug. 8 protest.
That prompted Dave Van Scoy, of the American Patriots Express group that supports President Trump, to shout “That’s bull----. That’s a lie.”
Van Scoy and Mike Kibling, of the North Country Deplorables pro-Trump group, said Stefanik was out of the country at the time and the protesters were asked three times by office workers to leave and refused.
Kibling asked for Cobb’s stance on bail reform.
Cobb said bail reform is a state issue and thanked them for coming to ask questions.
Democratic activist Mike Parwana said Van Scoy and Kibling would have to leave if they kept interrupting.
Health care views
Cobb also dodged a request from activist Scott DeNooyer asking her to support Medicare for All, saying she looked forward to working with him on this issue.
Cobb told members of the news media afterward that she supports a public option allowing people to buy into Medicare, so people who want to keep their health care insurance can.
She talked about her daughter who has a back injury that she will deal with for the rest of her life. She would be forced to pay an exorbitant cost on the open exchange.
The Stefanik campaign was quick to respond Tuesday, putting out a statement accusing Cobb of flip-flipping on the issue, citing an article from the North Country Now news website that says the Democrat favors single-payer health insurance.
Stefanik’s camp also highlighted information from the Cook Report, assessing that NY-21 is a safe seat for the incumbent. Cobb lost to Stefanik 56% to 42% in 2018.
“The political reality — as much as Dems wish this weren’t the case — is that -NY21 Rep. Elise Stefanik (R) is well-aligned with her North Country district, which twice voted for Obama before voting for Trump by 14% in 2016. She’s not vulnerable in 2020,” said Dave Wasserman, U.S. House editor for the Cook Report, in news release.
When asked, Cobb said at this moment the National Democratic Congressional Committee has not talked to her about putting more resources in the campaign.
Cobb said she welcomed the new outside donors that boosted her coffers by $1 million, but quickly said that in the first six months of the campaign, she had more than 2,000 donors from inside the district.
She criticized Stefanik for accepting corporate donations from places like Amgen, a pharmaceutical company that paid a $125 million settlement in a Medicare kickback scheme.
Cobb said she will not take any money from corporate donations.
Cobb on Tuesday reiterated her position that she supports the impeachment inquiry in the House, but said it was too early to say whether she supports impeachment and removal of the president.
“We don’t have all of the facts. The oath of office is to uphold the Constitution and what Congress needs to do is to follow the truth with objectivity and an open mind. That’s not what’s happening with some people in Congress and Elise Stefanik is one of them.”
In response to a question about the recent social media name-calling of “Trashy Stefanik,” said she is not going to get involved in slinging mud.
“At the end of the day, I have to look at myself in the mirror. And name-calling is not who I am, but serving the public is who I am,” she said.