Is Elise Stefanik The Future Of The GOP?

Many Schroon Lakers  might remember the visit this past summer by then candidate Elise Stefanik, when she checked in with the lads (and lasses) at the Schroon Lake Fish and Game Club's CHICKEN & Lobster bake,

Ms. Stefanik  -- running for the 21st Congress  on the Republican ticket -- we recall fist hand, was gregarious and charming, as she posed for photos with the boys from the Chicken Cooking Crew. In the November election, she won!!!

On January 6th, Stefanik, a Republican, was  one of several  -- young new faces  bringing fresh blood to Capitol Hill --  where many lawmakers, especially senators, are in their 70s or even older. Other younins'  are Democrats Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, who is 36, and Ruben Gallego of Arizona, who's 35. BTW -- The three all graduated from Harvard University, and as you might expect, have friends in common. 

Before her swearing in, Elise gave an exclusive interview to Nora O'Donnell, co-host of the fastest growing morning news show, CBS, This Morning, which you can watch here.

Or you can read the  text from CBS This Morning's report: "Elise Stefanik, a Republican from northern New York becomes the youngest woman ever to serve.

"It's very exciting. It's a humbling feeling. And I'm just excited to add an additional crack to the glass ceiling," Stefanik told "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell.

Stefanik made her crack to the glass ceiling in a district known as the North Country in New York state. She launched her campaign at age 29 and won it as a 30-year-old.

Her family supported her through the whole process.

"My parents have always been supportive of everything that I've done," Stefanik said. "Whether it was in school growing up, whether it was my dance recitals, whether it was sports. And I really credit the values that my parents instilled in me, the hard work. They're just really role models. I'm getting a little choked up talking about them. They're just wonderful. They were excited. I think it's harder for family members to see someone go through it with the negativity, to go through the campaign with the blog comments, the negative ads. It's harder on family members than on the candidates themselves. So I often was telling them, 'It's okay, I have a thick skin.'"

                        Facebook COO's influence on new member of Congress, Elise Stefanik

Stefanik said there are different challenges for women.

"Women, often times, their comments are different, whether it's about appearance, attire, it's just different than male candidates," she said.

Some even made comments about the patterned tights Stefanik wore.

"I mean, they're not that fashion-forward, if you look around, for example, the halls in Congress, there are lots of staff members who wear patterned tights. They're very tasteful. But, it's just part of being a young new candidate," Stefanik said.

Republicans are calling her the future of their party. They're looking to Stefanik to attract new voters.

When asked whether the Republican party has an image problem, Stefanik pointed to the results of the last election cycle, with the GOP taking control of Congress, as proof that the issue had been "fixed."

"I think we need to have a tone that reaches out to women, and that's something that I've been very focused on. I also think that we need to do a better job of listening ... A current member of Congress who gave me some of the best advice is actually Congressman Paul Ryan, who when I first went to him and said I was considering running for office, and he too, of course, ran at a younger age than I was, said, 'You have one mouth and two ears. Use them in that ratio,'" Stefanik said.

Stefanik considers Ryan her mentor. She ran his debate prep team when he was Mitt Romney's running mate in 2012.

Her disappointment in that election pushed her to run.

Her credentials are rock solid: a Harvard graduate who worked in the George W. Bush White House.

She helped run her family's small business back home. She's pro-life but argues for compassion and understanding of differing views.

She also talks about something that's rare these days in Washington: compromise and working with Democrats.

"I think you're going to see a Congress that works in the 114th Congress and a Senate at work," Stefanik said.

With that perspective, Stefanik acknowledged that it could be her youth or naïveté coming through.

"I think that's where being young is a strength, because I bring, I hope, a sunny side of optimism to Congress, and a willingness to work with people. I hope I'm not frustrated after the next two years," she said, laughing.

We are  very impressed with the approach Ms. Stefanik took to getting prepared for her role as Congresswoman-elect, bringing on a bi-partisan team of community leaders from across the vast 21st Congressional District in the North Country who advised her on the important components of the transition process,

Her plan was to ask the group to help identify key issues, priorities and personnel across the North Country to help ensure a seamless transition that reflects the interests from across the District. From Ms. Stefanik:

“I am so honored that these prominent leaders from across the District will help us get off to a strong start in serving the hardworking residents of the 21st District,” said Rep.-elect Stefanik. “I am committed to working with anyone, across the district and in Washington, to make sure the issues that are important to the residents in the North Country are heard in Washington.”

The first organizational call for the transition team will occur in the next week. It follows a week of orientation meetings where the Congresswoman-elect was briefed on all elements of setting up her new office.  She also met with numerous New York representatives as well as U.S. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand.

The Transition Team: 

Senator Hugh Farley, 49th Senate District

Senator Joe Griffo, 47th Senate District

Senator Betty Little, 45th Senate District

Senator Kathy Marchione,  43rd Senate District

Senator Patty Ritchie, 48th Senate District

Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush, 117th Assembly District

Assemblyman Marc Butler, 118th Assembly District

Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, 115th Assembly District

Assemblyman Dan Stec, 114th Assembly District

Mark Behan, Glens Falls

Michael Bittel, Greenwich

Cary Brick, Clayton

Greg Campbell, Keeseville

Dave Collins, Greenfield Center

Gary Dake, Saratoga Springs

Garry Douglas, Plattsburgh

Jerry Eaton, Ellisburg

Nancy Foster, Massena

Shaun Gillilland, Willsboro

John Greenwood, Canton

Peter and Suzanne Hoffman, Glens Falls

Sue McNeil, Amsterdam

Eric Mower, Syracuse

Brian Peck, Carthage

John Peckham, Greenwich

Chandler Ralph, Lake Placid

Michael and Penny Ring, Adams

John Rugge, Queensbury

Matt Scollin, Glens Falls

Jeff Vukelic, Wilton

Mark Westcott, Queensbury

Mark Wladis, Syracuse

Jim Wright, Watertown

Bob White, Saranac Lake

Marcia White, Saratoga Springs

Denise Young, Watertown