Without debate, 7 News profiles 21st Congressional District Candidates

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 5:54 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - 7 News was unable to secure a debate between the candidates running for the 21st Congressional District. Democrat Matt Castelli agreed, but we couldn’t get a commitment from Republican Elise Stefanik.

That’s why we’re doing two separate reports on the candidates. On Wednesday we’re doing a profile on Stefanik. We’ll air Castelli’s profile on Thursday.

“I’m proud to be nearing my 2,000th event in this district. Voters know me. I’ve worked very hard for my constituents and I’ve debated more than anybody else in modern history in this district,” Stefanik said last week.

But not in 2022. Four media outlets, including WWNY and WPTZ in Plattsburgh, attempted to schedule debates.

Stefanik’s senior advisor Alex Degrasse is quoted in the Glens Falls Post-Star as saying, “The biased mainstream media shamefully colluded with the downstate Democrat to ensure he had zero primary debates and then let him handpick the date and time of a general election debate.”

The facts are WWNY reached out to the Stefanik campaign on August 10 asking for dates and times that worked for the congresswoman. We did not receive any. Three weeks later is when WWNY approached the Castelli campaign.

We sat with Congresswoman Stefanik at a small business owner luncheon last week where she said inflation is one of the biggest problems small business owners are facing. If re-elected, and if Republicans take control of the House, Stefanik says she’ll look to undo what she says the American Rescue Act has done.

“That means reining in that reckless spending that’s causing inflation to lower the rate of inflation which is crushing families. It means lowering energy prices to get those gas bills down, those home heating bills down. Then making sure we have a secure supply chain right here in the United States, and not dependent upon China,” she said.

Alongside economic concerns, Congresswoman Stefanik says safety will be a priority in the first 100 days if Republicans have a majority in the House.

“Securing the southern border which is an absolute crisis, and it impacts our district because northern border patrol officers have been transferred over and over again because of the crisis on our southern border,” she said.

Finally, when looking to the future of the Republican Party, Stefanik say she’ll stay by the side of former President Donald Trump.

“I support President Trump. I hope he runs. I think he will,” she said.

If that 2024 presidential ticket will include Stefanik’s name, she said, “I would be honored to serve in a future Trump Administration. I’m focused on doing my job as a member of Congress for New York’s 21st District.”

The 21st Congressional District changes in 2023. It will not include Watertown and most of Jefferson County. It will include six towns from Alexandria over through Wilna. It also includes all of St. Lawrence County and Lewis County spreading eastward.