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Would Stefanik winning leadership post benefit the North Country?

Published: May. 13, 2021 at 5:26 PM EDT|Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 5:40 AM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - New York Rep. Elise Stefanik is working hard to win votes for a new title. Our Kelly O’Brien spoke to voters and talked to a political scientist about whether Stefanik winning GOP conference chair would benefit the North Country.

“This has been a long process; for the outside public it seems sudden,” said Harvey Schantz, a political science professor at SUNY Plattsburgh.

Schantz says positions of power changing within a party-- when it happens outside elections decided by voters-- is rare.

He also says high-ranking positions within a party are not positions well-suited for all members of Congress.

“Very few actually pursue the role of upper party leadership,” Schantz said.

Stefanik is now looking to be the third in command for the GOP in the House after the party ousted former conference chair Liz Cheney earlier this week.

As conference chair, Stefanik would have a larger voice in the Republican Party and on the national stage.

“What Stefanik brings is focus on attacking and criticizing the Democratic program in Washington,” Schantz said.

Voters in her district have mixed views on the possibility of their representative gaining more power within the party.

“I support the move and I think we should all be proud of her,” said Roger Robare of Altona.

Robare says he backs his representative 100%.

“She’s done a lot for the Republican Party and I fully support her,” he said.

“I think it’s a real danger having her in a leadership position. She’s part of one of the Trumpists who are denying reality,” said Stephen Novacich of Plattsburgh.

Novacich says Stefanik has been anything but a voice for the North Country.

“I think she is a politician and she sticks her finger up to see which way the wind is blowing,” he said. “I don’t think she has any integrity.”

If she does rise in the ranks and become the conference chair, will the North Country benefit?

“It’s mainly beneficial but there are some downsides,” Schantz said.

Schantz says holding a higher rank in the party, people will come to you for legislation and budget appropriations. But it also requires more time in Washington rather than back home in her district.

“The position is really meant for national leadership more than to help a particular district,” Schantz said.

I did reach out to Congresswoman Elise Stefanik for an interview but she declined.

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