On Thursday night, GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik — the chair of the House Republican Conference who's become a force to be reckoned with — was in upstate New York to host a "Save Our State" rally. She was there in Castleton-On-Hudson to fire up New York Republicans with her house colleague Rep. Lee Zeldin, who's in the competitive race for governor of the Empire State with hopes of unseating Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul.
In FIVE DAYS, we will #SaveNewYork with a #RedTsunami - tonight we had the biggest rally in Upstate with over 3,000 people in support of our GOP candidates and electing @leezeldin, our next Governor! Honored to host this MASSIVE #SaveOurState rally in #NY21 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/ooRafzVCcB— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) November 4, 2022
Townhall spoke exclusively with Rep. Stefanik on Friday in between her final-stretch campaign stops as she works to flip New York and the U.S. House of Representatives red with just four days left in the campaign to gauge how she and her fellow New Yorkers feel in the closing hours of the 2022 midterms.
As Stefanik explained, "Democrats have absolutely failed in all respects — they control New York State from the Governor's mansion to super-majorities in Albany, and now they're reaping the results of these crises that they've created," she said of the one-party control — and the policy results of that power structure — in New York that mirrors the one-party control of Washington with President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"She will not be elected governor," Stefanik said of Hochul. "Remember, she was never elected governor and they thought they were entitled to this — but it turns out New Yorkers are going to make this decision and they're going to fire Kathy Hochul," the Republican firebrand who's made a name for herself in Congress and on the campaign trail said.
For those who may be surprised that New York is competitive for Republicans, Stefanik said she's not surprised a breaking point has been reached for many voters. "If folks were paying attention, many of us saw this happening well over a year ago," Stefanik explained. "I've said for nearly two years that we will elect a Republican governor, that it's a once in a generation opportunity."
Part of the success seen by Lee Zeldin, Stefanik explained, has been his ground game. "Under the media's nose, although I've been paying attention and I know New Yorkers have, Lee Zeldin has been criss-crossing this state," Stefanik said. "Our attorney general candidate Michael Henry has been criss-crossing the state talking about the issues that actually matter," she added. Those issues? "The tax-and-spend crisis, the corruption crisis in Albany, and most importantly the crime crisis in New York," Stefanik outlined. "And it turns out, that's what voters are paying attention to too."
"Zeldin has the momentum," Stefanik told Townhall. "I would compare our rally last night with thousands of people to the barely 100 that Kathy Hochul could get when she had in Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris. We were proud to be the foil for that with much much more energy and enthusiasm," she added. And quite the foil it was.
Part of the lack of enthusiasm for Hochul supporters — as well as those backing Democrat candidates for House and Senate in the midterms — is their attempt to tell voters what matters to them. It just isn't working. President Biden and Democrats have spent months making the case that "our democracy" is on the ballot next week. The president even delivered an unscheduled speech this week again reiterating that point — but it still isn't working, as Stefanik explained from her time on the midterm campaign trail this year.
Rather than "our democracy," Stefanik said voters are "focused on the inflation crisis, the crime crisis, the border crisis." She also noted that polling has shown, even on the issue of protecting democracy, Republicans are beating Democrats. That should come as no surprise, given Democrats' attempts to pack the Supreme Court, abolish the Senate's legislative filibuster, and get rid of the Electoral College. Not exactly "Guardians of the Democracy" behavior.
What's more, as Stefanik explained, the use of Biden's messaging seeking to demonize "dark MAGA extremists" alienates even more voters. "Whether it's the President of the United States or the Governor of New York, both Democrats are smearing millions of people and they believe that's the most effective messaging?" Stefanik noted. "They're gonna have a real wakeup call when they wake up Wednesday morning and will have epic losses up and down the ballot," she said.
The other issue Democrats — from Joe Biden to Kathy Hochul and down the ballot — have tried to make stick is abortion. But their extremist positions on the issue aren't making Americans care any more or become more motivated to vote for Democrats in the midterms.
"First of all, it's Democrats who have the radical position," Stefanik said. "They want taxpayer-funded, late-term abortion up until — and after — birth. They want to repeal the bipartisan Hyde Amendment," she explained. "That's where today's Democrat party is, that's not where the majority of the American people are," Stefanik noted.
The attempts by Biden, Hochul, and other Democrats to make democracy and abortion the key issues in 2022 will backfire, as Stefanik sees it.
"When the postmortems are written of this election cycle, Democrats have tried to force a set of issues on the American people, they've tried to force a set of issues and priorities on New Yorkers, and they've done that to try to avoid talking about the issues that voters actually care about which are the economic challenges, the inflation challenges people are facing, the energy costs continuing to go up, the crime crisis," Stefanik explained to Townhall.
"When I became House Republican Conference Chair my focus was, we're going to talk about the issues that matter every single day and hammer away at those," Stefanik explained of her strategy leading Republicans in the House after taking over following the ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney. "Lee Zeldin did that effectively in New York," Stefanik explained of his ability to identify with New Yorkers and their struggles. "That's why you're seeing we're on the precipice of earning very big wins next Tuesday."
In addition to her work to turn New York red, Stefanik's E-PAC has been working across the country to elect conservative women to Congress as the GOP seeks to regain control of the speaker's gavel. In the last election, Stefanik was successful in helping her now-colleagues Reps. Claudia Tenney (NY-22) and Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11) win their seats.
Her E-PAC endorsed candidates in New York and in other states this time around are poised to lead the red wave next week, and Stefanik is optimistic that she and her party will lead a historic majority.
"If we pick up 35 seats, that will be the largest majority since the Great Depression — I think we get there," Stefanik told Townhall. "I think we can win the majority just in New York alone and pick up five seats," she added of an apparently looming state-level red wave in New York. This cycle, Stefanik has fundraised for numerous Empire State GOP House candidates, several of which would flip Democrat seats. Among them is Mike Lawler, running to unseat Democrat Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in a race recently moved from "Lean Dem" to "Toss Up" by the Cook Political Report.
"I think we're going to pick up other northeastern seats in states that haven't had a Republican member in the delegation in a long time," Stefanik continued of her election predictions. "I think we're going to see historic wins of all types of incredible candidates. From Karoline Leavitt winning in New Hampshire — who will be the newest, youngest woman ever elected to Congress — I'm proud that she's achieved that. She's worked for me and President Trump and she has been working hard," Stefanik noted. "You're going to see Hispanic Republican women win three seats in Texas. You'll have Lori Chavez-DeRemer, also Hispanic, flip a seat in Oregon," she added.
Overall, Stefanik described her mood ahead of Tuesday's elections: "It's just very exciting."