Congressional Debate Highlights Nation's Partisan Divide

Congressional Debate Highlights Nation's Partisan Divide

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It's a week before Election Day and a debate between congressional candidates shows the north country isn't immune to the partisan conflict defining the 2018 midterms.

Republican incumbent Elise Stefanik faced off in a debate hosted by WWNY-TV against her challengers, Democrat Tedra Cobb and Green Party candidate Dr. Lynn Kahn.

Most of the contention was between Stefanik and Cobb, with Kahn pointing out that they were demonstrating the same partisan bickering that plagues politics on the national level.

Stefanik took several opportunities to link Cobb with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democratic who is largely unpopular in upstate New York.

"I don't really care about Gov. Cuomo," Cobb replied.

For her part, Cobb repeated claims that Stefanik, "has never lived in this district," which the incumbent denies.

"You're witnessing the animosity between the Republicans and Democrats that do not allow our Congress, our nation's representatives, to solve shared problems," Kahn said.

"Attacking and counterattacking is not solving the problem," she said.

Among the more contentious issues were gun control and health care.

All three candidates said they support Second Amendment rights and Kahn and Stefanik said they do not support bans on assault rifles. Cobb said such a ban could be an option in solving the problem of gun violence.

For health care, Kahn says she's in favor of a form of "Medicare for all" that addresses reducing the costs of health care.

Cobb said she supports "portable and affordable health care" and slammed Stefanik for voting for a Republican-led plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Stefanik said that Obamacare is failing. "We have seen that government-run health care is not the solution."

All three candidates pointed out that President Donald Trump's plan to eliminate birthright citizenship is unconstitutional.

Stefanik said, though, that she agrees with the president "that we need to invest in our border security," saying the country has a "broken immigration system."

Kahn said "we are a nation of immigrants" and "people that are seeking asylum here are doing nothing illegal."

"This Congress has failed to find a solution to our immigration problem," Cobb said, "and we need to get it done."

Other topics included gay and abortion rights, water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, economic development,  climate change, international trade, and legalizing marijuana.

The hour-long debate airs on WWNY-TV at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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