No primaries after all in Stefanik race

By Maury Thompson, Special to The Chronicle

Anticipated Republican and Democratic primaries in the 21st Congressional District won’t happen after all.

Democrat Paula Collins, below, will challenge Republican Elise Stefanik. Photos from candidates
Neither Republican Jill Lochner nor Democrat Steven Holden filed nominating petitions by the April 4 deadline, the state Board of Elections confirmed Monday.

Five-term U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, will be the Republican and Conservative candidate. Paula Collins, a cannabis tax lawyer who recently moved from Manhattan to Canton, will be the Democrat and Working Families candidate.

Candidates can still get on the general election ballot as independents.

Neither Mrs. Lochner or Mr. Holden returned messages seeking comment.

Rep. Stefanik announced April 1 that she filed Republican nominating petitions with 8,516 signatures (only 1,250 valid signatures are needed) and Conservative nominating petitions with 1,145.

“This is a testament to the enormous amount of grassroots support that we have garnered in all 15 counties across Upstate New York and the North Country,” the Congresswoman was quoted. “

“I remain committed to delivering real results to the hardworking families of our district,” Stefanik said.

On April 4, the Stefanik campaign announced “that Team Elise raised over $7.1 million in Q1 of 2024, with an average donation of $21 to her campaign with 70,000 unique donors.

“This historic filing shatters previous Team Elise fundraising records as well as the Conference Chair record previously set by Chairwoman Stefanik.

“Team Elise has now raised over $20 million cycle to date with millions transferred to the NRCC, millions raised directly for candidates, and millions for her New York Republican battleground effort.”

Ms. Collins cites expertise in small business and climate change issues, and her enthusiasm.

“What I’ve got is a focus and a fire in my belly and a real desire to serve,” she said.

Making her first run for political office, Ms. Collins said she has been looking for a good place to settle down.

She recently bought land in Rensselaer County and said she inquired who represented the community in Congress.

“I thought, ‘Oh my — Elise Stefanik. I cannot sit this one out,’” Ms. Collins said.’
Rensselaer County was removed from the 21st District in the final redistricting adopted by the state Legislature Feb. 28.

Ms. Collins said she had already leased an apartment in Canton in the north-western section of the 15-county district, initially planning to use it as a second residence during the campaign, and has now made that her primary residence.

Rep. Stefanik lives in Schuylerville in the Town of Saratoga. It was added back into the 21st District in the redistricting, along with the Saratoga County towns of Moreau, Corinth, Hadley, Day, Edinburg, Providence and a portion of Wilton.

Historically, gun rights has been a defining issue in local congressional races.

Rep. Stefanik received an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund in the last election cycle.

Ms. Collins said she supports Second Amendment rights but calls for a limited gun ban that she said should be worded specifically to limit the capability of continuous firing for assault weapons.

“I understand there are people who like to sport shoot. But in the hands of the general public, it’s a problem,” she said in a recent telephone interview. Ms. Collins said she was a member of a legal association committee that recommended individuals with marijuana convictions be allowed to later own guns.

“So, I’ve got a solid precedent of supporting gun rights,” she said.

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