Joe Gilbert, Elise Stefanik and Michael Ring, center, during the meeting of NY-21 county Republican committees at the Halfway House Feb. 7.
Ten of the 12 county Republican Chairs from the NY-21 Congressional District met at the Halfway House in Elizabethtown Feb. 7 to give their support to a small businesswoman from Willsboro with national political ties.
Essex County GOP Chairman Ron Jackson, former Essex Supervisor, announced that 11 of the 12 counties had given their blessing to Elise Stefanik, the current Willsboro resident who has served in the George W. Bush cabinet and the Paul Ryan Vice Presidential candidacy team.
“I’m so humbled today by the endorsement from the county chairs,” Stefanik said. “I have been hard on the campaign trail for the past year and I will be getting right back out there. We absolutely need new ideas and I look forward to being a voice for the North Country in Washington.”
Stefanik threw her hat into the race last year, then preparing for a potential election against Democratic incumbent Bill Owens of Plattsburgh. Even though Owens has announced he will not seek re-election in November, Stefanik said she will not change her strategy.
“I commend Congressman Owens for his service to the North Country,” she said. “I was running in this race when it was the toughest and there was an incumbent. I think it says a lot for my campaign and the momentum I was picking up.”
“She has never been running against a person,” Jackson said. “She is running based on what she wants to bring to Washington. It’s about her and not about who else is involved.”
Stefanik said even though she has experience in some of the most inner circles of federal politics, she does bring new ideas to the table.
“I have seen first-hand how broken Washington is,” she said. “We need people willing to roll up their sleeves and face the tough issues.”
Stefanik was not alone in seeking the Republican endorsement, as she was joined at the meeting and announcement by congressional hopefuls Michael Ring and Joe Gilbert.
After the announcement, Ring backed out of the race and also endorsed Stefanik.
“I’ve got to see her through 12 different meetings and have gotten to know her real well,” Ring said. “I wanted to get my message to the committees and I believe I did that and was able to open the eyes of the committee to a different way of doing things. Elise and I see a lot of things in the same way, and I would rather work to get voters involved and realizing they can make a difference the compete in a primary.”
Gilbert, however, said he was going to file a petition to take part in the June primaries.
“Our system is established so the voter has the final say,” Gilbert said. “Through the primary process, the voters get to see the differences between the two candidates and through this the Republicans will have a stronger candidate going into the general election.”
Jackson did not agree.
“I can tell you there is no party chairman that wants a primary,” he said. “I think that it hurts everybody. I hope that there is no primary but certainly everyone has the right to petition for a spot on the ballot.”
Gilbert said he does not see himself as a “rebel” in the election.
“I don’t see it that way,” Gilbert said. “My guiding principles are the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”
The NY-21 Congressional District includes Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis, Hamilton, Essex, Warren, Washington and Fulton counties as well as parts of Herkimer and Saratoga counties. Eleven of the 12 county GOP committees chose to endorse Stefanik, while Jefferson County’s committee said they would not endorse a candidate until after the potential primary.
Previously, Stefanik worked in sales, marketing, and management in her family’s business, Premium Plywood Products, Inc. She served in the George W. Bush White House on the Domestic Policy Council and the office of the Chief of Staff and was the Director of Debate Preparation for 2012 Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan.