PLATTSBURGH — About 50 supporters welcomed Tedra Cobb to American Legion Post 20 on Quarry Road Wednesday for the second of four stops on her “Fighting for Northern New York Tour.”
Cobb, a Democrat who is challenging Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) again for New York’s 21st Congressional District seat, touted her connection to the district and claimed that Stefanik has failed to prioritize the people of the North Country.
“I’ve spent 30 years working with our community and with families in New York to make our lives better and right now, Washington is dysfunctional and it’s not helping our region and Elise Stefanik is part of the problem.”
‘NEVER CUT A DIME’
Cobb — who served eight years on the St. Lawrence County legislature — said she has spent her career expanding health care access, while Stefanik has spent her time in Washington trying to take it away.
“If it were up to Stefanik, 64,000 people would lose their health care in this district alone,” she said, referring to Stefanik’s vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Cobb added that seniors would pay more for prescription drugs and protections for those with pre-existing conditions would be eliminated.
Stefanik has voted to cut Medicare and Social Security by trillions and to turn Medicare into a voucher program, she continued.
Additionally, the congresswoman supports the privatization of Social Security.
“All of this would benefit the big banks and the
insurance companies that fund her campaign,” Cobb said.
Cobb believes people should be able to buy into Medicare, supports protecting people with pre-existing conditions and feels that Medicare should be able to negotiate prescription drug prices.
“And here is my commitment to you: I will never cut a dime from Social Security and Medicare.”
Cobb said the congresswoman spends her time outside of the district finding candidates and campaigning, and takes money from “the worst corporate actors” like pharmaceutical companies, corporate polluters and insurance companies.
She called Stefanik a “Washington insider.”
“But for the last 30 years, I have been here with you raising my family, trying to make life just a little bit better,” Cobb said.
“So today, I am asking you to join me in this fight because it matters, and because I can’t do it without you.”
Following Stefanik’s participation in public hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump last week, Cobb’s campaign reported that it saw a $1 million influx in donations over the weekend.
On whether it makes her uncomfortable to take campaign money from out-of-state when she has criticized Stefanik for doing so, Cobb pivoted to her commitment to refuse money from corporations.
She said Stefanik has taken thousands from companies like Amgen Inc., Philip Morris International Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, which “have preyed on our communities and have hurt the people in this community.”
During her campaign in 2018, Cobb struggled to get the support of the National Democratic Party.
Asked if the fundraising streak changed that, she said everyone has noticed what her campaign is doing.
“I think in the next few weeks, we’ll see the outcome.”
Even in the hour leading up to Cobb’s appearance in Plattsburgh, Twitter users were utilizing #TrashyStefanik — which was born out of a tweet by Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George Conway, who called Stefanik trash — while voicing their support for Cobb’s campaign.
Cobb said she does not expect everyone to agree, but does expect them to treat each other with respect and dignity.
“I will not name-call. If Stefanik chooses to run her campaign with name-calling and belittling me or other people, that is her choice.”
When asked specifically if she would keep Mr. Conway’s donation, Cobb said she would accept donations from people who have supported her.
“That does not mean that ... I accept everyone’s language.”
She added that she has and will call out such language when she sees it, though it appears she has not responded to or condemned #TrashyStefanik on Twitter.
Regarding the impeachment inquiry, Cobb told reporters, “Congress has a Constitutional duty to find the truth no matter where it will lead.”
She hopes elected officials will carry out that duty without playing political games or being partisan.
“Unfortunately, Elise Stefanik has not done that so far.”
Cobb did not say whether or not she would vote for articles of impeachment at this time.
“I cannot say that anyone should answer that question right now because we do not have all the facts.”
According to the State Board of Elections, as of Nov. 1, 178,067 of the district’s 444,070 registered voters are Republicans, while 131,165 are Democrats, 27,059 are Independence Party members, and 6,747 belong to the Conservative Party.
Though the district skews Republican, Cobb said the opportunity over the next year is to “hoof it” around the district and meet more people so they can learn about her.
“At the end of the day, I trust the voters will see that they have a clear choice and I hope that that choice is me.”
In a statement, Stefanik’s campaign spokesman Lenny Alcivar said Cobb was dishonest about her health care record, impeachment, tax hikes and other issues facing North Country families.
He added that Stefanik is proud of support from thousands of contributors from all 12 counties in the district.
“Elise enjoys unified support from North Country voters across party lines, including newly announced support of the New York State Republican and Independence parties, and of local district leaders.”
He also pointed to tweets from analysts at The Cook Political Report and FiveThirtyEight which support the argument that Stefanik is “not vulnerable” in 2020.
Dave Wasserman, U.S. House editor for the Cook Report, said Stefanik is well-aligned with the district.
FiveThirtyEight elections analyst Geoffrey Skelley made a more brash statement, writing that the Democratic donors who contributed a collective $1 million to her campaign “literally burned a pile of money.”
Email Cara Chapman: