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Can Stefanik survive political backlash?

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 4:01 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2021 at 4:53 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - There’s mounting pressure on GOP members of Congress who backed the president’s objection to the certification of the election, including New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.

Last Monday, two days before Congress was set to sign off on President-elect Joe Biden’s win in November, Stefanik a video to Twitter saying she will object to electors. “I have an obligation to act on this matter if I believe there are serious questions with respect to the presidential election. I believe those questions exist,” she said.

Two days later an angry mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, some of them vandalizing, stealing property, beating police officers. There was even a hunt for Vice President Mike Pence. After the insurgents were pushed back, lawmakers reconvened and Stefanik stuck to her baseless objections to results in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia.

In an interview Thursday with our Washington reporter Kyle Midura, Stefanik denounced the violence but avoided answering whether her doubts about the election helped spur the crowd. “We will have to work as the American people and as legislators to make sure that we have constitutional elections, safe and secure elections in the future,” she said.

Later that day there were protests in the North Country outside her offices in Plattsburgh, Watertown, and Glens Falls. Many asking her to step down. “I think she is very culpable and a deep part of this,” said Casey Sanger, one of the protestors.

“I think this could ruin her career, what she did, or it may enhance it. Who knows,” added Philip Madore of Plattsburgh.

On Friday, Stefanik tangled with Governor Cuomo. A reporter asked Cuomo if republicans, including Stefanik, were complicit in President Trump’s behavior. “If you don’t ask him to resign, then you’re complicit. It’s that simple,” Cuomo responded.

Stefanik issued a written response -- not acknowledging Cuomo’s charge of complicity, but instead lashing out and calling him the “worst governor in America.”

On Saturday, Stefanik appeared with constituents in Dannemora, standing firm in her support of the president and her votes on Wednesday. “president-elect Biden was certified but that debate was important for the American people to hear,” she insisted.

And now Harvard, her alma mater, has removed her from its Institute of Politics Senior Advisory Committee, the dean saying Stefanik “made public assertions about voter fraud in November’s presidential election that have no basis in evidence.”

Stefanik remained defiant, saying in a statement that “The Ivory Tower’s march toward a monoculture of like-minded, intolerant liberal views demonstrates the sneering disdain for everyday Americans ...”

A national petition on Change.org urging her to resign now has nearly 20,000 signatures. But Stefanik has enjoyed strong support in her district where she won reelection in November with 58% of the vote.

And both the Upstate New York GOP and the Essex County GOP chair jumped to her defense, saying her opponents are using the D.C. riots to further their agendas. They say calls for her to resign are unfair and an insult to her supporters in the North Country.

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