5 Reasons Elise Stefanik is Wrong About Upstate New York

Kenneth Lee Warner
5 min readMay 8, 2021

by Kenneth L. Warner, New York On The Line

Let’s get one thing straight. New York North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik’s move to kick out Republican House Leader Liz Cheney has less to do with her desire to save the country, and everything to do with her ambition to become Governor of New York State.

Elis Stefanik has booked a flight on Omumuamua as her quickest way to New York’s Governor’s Mansion.

But for Republicans and Ms. Stefanik, it’s jumping out of the frying Pan and into the fire.

News grew long and large this week that Republicans in the US House of Representatives are gaining support in their coup attempt to replace Liz Cheney of Wyoming with Elise Stefanik of Northern New York.

Ms. Stefanik, who once seemed to abhor President Trump’s shenanigans with women and erratic behavior on twitter, has now succumbed to his magic spell and is all over the twice impeached reality star like white on rice. And, her own rise to “stardom” is laced with the same lies, half-truths, and impressions of the alternate universe much like Trump’s Presidency.

Even more bizarre is that I even heard one pundit describe her as “The best political campaigner and strategist” he’s ever seen.

Apparently, he’s blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other. I hardly think that beating underfunded, weakly supported Democrats who portray themselves as “Republican Lite” makes anyone a political genius. But, such are the conclusions in the Republican World of Bizarro.

It is startling clear that anyone who thinks “Conservative Upstate New York” is the way to greatness (or at least the Governor’s Mansion) has been sipping the kool-aid for too long.

They’ve got it wrong about Upstate New York and need to check the Windex to understand which way the wind is blowing.

Here’s some examples why.

1.) Long-time Monroe County political powerhouse Congressman Joe Morelle has made it to the Republican ‘Hit List” as vulnerable in 2022. It must be a Fundraising Ploy, because Republicans have about as much chance of beating Joe Morelle as I have of becoming Pope. Fact is, Democrats under Mr. Morelle’s able strategy have been hacking away at the Republican Machine in Monroe County ever since the legendary Republican mastermind, Steve Minarik died and left them leaderless. Under Morelle’s leadership, the County Clerk and County Exec are now Democrats after Republicans held a stranglehold on the offices for years. And, more evidence of a shift to more mainstream political thinking is the retirement of long-time Republican State Senator Joe Robach. He represented much of the county for over a decade and vacated his seat last year after seeing the handwriting on the wall that said the Dems were going to sweep. Democrat Jeremy Cooney beat out all comers and is firmly “in” as part of the Democratic Majority.

2.) It’s true that the other Upstate Republican Trump lover, Congresswoman Claudia Tenney beat Democrat Anthony Brindisi in NY 22 … but in the end it was by a margin as slim as a razor’s edge. And, so scared of losing was Ms. Tenney that she shouted from the rooftops that Elections Officials should STOP COUNTING VOTES as soon as she was ahead, thereby ignoring and disenfranchising thousands of voters. Whoever heard of such thing?! By the way — the election officials in Oneida County who were key to Tenney’s victory failed to actually register thousands of voters who submitted their registration forms. Not only is Tenney not the real winner of that election, she’s going to lose in 2022 when Anthony goes back to kick her ass down the street. Yet another indication that “Conservative Upstate” is hanging on by a thread.

3.) And, lest we forget, we should all remember the tale of former Senator Democrat David Valesky who represented District 53 in Central New York for almost a decade and a half. He learned the hard way that cozying up to Republicans as Co-Chair of the infamous IDC ended up being the path to obscurity. Political novice Rachel May with a war chest the size of a kid’s penny-piggy bank and a rag-tag battalion of Bernie activists booted him out in 2019. Now she has become a stalwart bulldog of the New York Senate Majority. Her victory, not to mention genius as Chair of the Senate Committee on Aging during a pandemic that was knocking off seniors faster than a little boy’s tongue when his popsicle begins to melt, has changed the reality of political thinking all over CNY.

4.) Next Door to Senator May’s District, Democrat John Mannion upset the Republican hammer-lock on Senate 50 and taught them a handy lesson in political strategy by winning and becoming the first Dem to represent the badly gerrymandered district in anyone’s memory. His boundless energy, political savvy and connection with voters promises to keep the region in Democratic hands for many elections to come. Certainly not the promise of Republican votes for Gov that Ms. Stefanik needs to change her address to Albany.

5.) Finally, speaking of the boy next door, Congressman John Katko the “other” North Country / Central New York member of Congress is distancing himself from the rest of the Republican wolf pack and is turning out to be a breath of fresh air. He used to be so far to the right that his car didn’t turn left. But he voted to impeach. He’s been named as the # 1 Bi-Partisan Congressman in Washington. And, he’s treating Stefanik and her kind like ants at a picnic, moving his blanket more toward the middle, if not even a bit to the left. In part thanks to Democrat Dana Balter who showed him a thing or two about the myth of “Conservative” voters in his district by nearly

Frankly, I love the fact that they they’ve made Elise Stefanik the darling of the Republican Congress. She still believes that the 2020 Elections were illegal (everywhere but in HER district, of course). That if only Donald Trump were in his rightful place in the White House, all those jobs he promised would come flooding into the North Country faster than a Lake Ontario water level rise. And, that the American Health Care system works. Giving him a chance at early retirement.

None of this is going to help Ms. Stefanik in her quest to become Governor of New York State Fact is, Republican House Leadership roles aren’t good for the resume. There has been a half dozen or so people in that position in the last dozen or so years. Most retire into Hotel Obscurity, which is where Ms. Stefanik will soon reside.

Speaking of Congressman Morelle, he taught me one of my first lessons in political strategy …. You have to know how to count. And if Elise is counting on a Republican win in the never-never land of Conservative Upstate, she clearly needs a new abacus.

Apparently, the Congresswoman can’t add.

Like so many other things about Republicans in Congress these days, Ms. Stefanik is way, way, way out of touch with reality. In fact, she’s riding a gravy train headed no-where and has taken up residence living in that alternate universe.



Kenneth Lee Warner

Writer, Sailor, Community Activist, Political Strategist and Recovering Cellar Rat. Living, Loving Life and Working for Peace on the North Coast of America