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Stefanik floated as possible gubernatorial candidate

Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 5:43 PM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, Vt. (WCAX) - The race for New York’s next governor is still a year away, but a well-known North Country name is being tossed around. A spokesperson for Congresswoman Elise Stefanik says the Republican is receiving encouragement from all corners of New York to run but hasn’t made any decisions yet. Local political experts say it’s not surprising to see her name in the mix, but it could also be a risky move.

“It’s not surprising, it’s called progressive ambition,” said SUNY-Plattsburgh political science professor Harvey Schantz, of Stefanik’s possible run for governor. “The U.S. House is considered a lesser position than the state governorship in New York, so it is a move up.”

Schantz says her criticism of the Cuomo administration the last several months amid ongoing several scandals has raised her profile across the state. “In New York state, we have 27 congressional districts. That means you really are only known by 1/27th of the state. But, by criticizing Cuomo, she gained press coverage all around the state,” he said.

Stefanik’s office released a statement saying, in part: “She would immediately be the strongest Republican candidate in both the primary and general gubernatorial election.” It goes on to tout her record-breaking fundraising efforts and success at the ballot box but says there are many high-quality Republicans in the state considering the seat.

Clark Currier, Chair of the Clinton County Republican Committee, says if she does decide to run, he’ll back her 100%. “We’re really proud of her, she’s done a phenomenal job. She’s grown into the job, found her voice and purpose and she’s done great representing,” he said.

New York is a historically blue state. In the last century, there have only been three elected Republican governors. Democrats currently outnumber Republicans in the state legislature by a 2 to 1 ratio, but Schantz says it is possible to turn the governor’s seat red. “While it’s difficult to overturn the Legislature, a governor is only one person,” he said. He said it will come down to who the state GOP backs. “The Republicans are going to pick the best candidate and they would be willing to sacrifice a congressional seat here.

State law prohibits Stefanik from being on the same ballot for two positions, so if she does choose to run for governor, she would lose her seat in Congress. Schantz said it will still be a while before the 2022 field of candidates shakes out.

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