Sun. Jun 20th, 2021

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik’s rise in Congress could mean big things for her district back home and have an impact on the congressional elections next year. 

Fulton County Republican Chairwoman Susan McNeil said Stefanik’s expected rise to a top leadership position in the House of Representatives could bode well for upstate New York.  

“Is it that it’s recognition? Sure,” she said. “Maybe more people will understand what upstate New York is all about. It’s more than just the city.”

Stefanik has pledged to be a unity figure within the House Republican conference as its number three lawmaker while the GOP moves to regain its majority in 2022. New York is home to several battleground House districts despite its heavy Democratic enrollment statewide.  

“It’s uniting the Republicans together — feeling a stronger place in New York state, coming together as a unified team,” McNeil said. 

Stefanik’s alliance with former President Trump has made her a lightning rod nationally, but McNeil believes it will help the party coalesce — especially in New York as House GOP lawmakers this week ousted Rep. Liz Cheney as leader. Cheney has been a vocal Trump critic who has knocked him for the false claims surrounding the 2020 presidential election. 

“I think the Republicans are still holding onto President Trump’s words: ‘America First,” she said. “And I think with the Republicans in New York state follow his lead and say ‘New Yorkers first.'” 

But Utica College political science professor Luke Perry is skeptical keeping the party glued together by aligning with Trump in the long run can help. 

“It’s a high-risk, high-reward strategy which has some merit perhaps in the short term, but I don’t think is sustainable in the long term for the Republican Party if they want to start winning national elections,” Perry said. 

New York is already home to a number of prominent federal lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic House Conference Chairman Hakeem Jeffries. Having lawmakers in powerful positions can help the state and its influence. 

“It helps bring home resources, steer policies towards the needs here in New York and across the state,” Perry said. “I think it’s happened most likely because New York is a large, influential, pivotal state.”