Published on November 19, 2019 by Jesse McKinley
ALBANY, N.Y. — Shortly after the impeachment hearing began on Friday, Representative Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, made her mark. She accused the Democratic committee chairman, Adam Schiff, of trying to silence her and other members of her party, “simply because we are Republicans.”
Later, Ms. Stefanik took on a prominent role among Republicans in questioning the day’s witness, the former United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch.
For Ms. Stefanik, 35, once the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, the moment in the spotlight was noticed by members of her party, most notably President Trump, who called her a “new Republican star” on Twitter.
But her performance was also a galvanizing moment for Democrats, who swarmed Ms. Stefanik’s Democratic challenger, Tedra Cobb, with social media attention and donations: Ms. Cobb’s campaign announced a weekend fund-raising haul of more than $1 million.
Among the wave of donors was George T. Conway III, a conservative lawyer who is married to President Trump’s White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, and is now a prominent critic of Mr. Trump. Mr. Conway posted a screenshot of his $2,800 contribution on Twitter, and was among other left-leaning social media luminaries, including Chrissy Teigen, George Takei, Mark Hamill and Zach Braff, who encouraged their followers to follow suit.
That swell of financial help was mirrored in an exponential increase in social interest: Ms. Cobb and Ms. Stefanik each gained more than 200,000 new followers on Twitter since Friday, according to Social Blade, a social media data firm.
The sudden attention given to the race in New York’s 21st Congressional District demonstrates how the nation’s partisan divide can invigorate a little-noticed upstate outpost — covering a massive chunk of Adirondack forests and towns known as the North Country — and turn it into a major electoral battleground.
The district is considered a challenge for Democrats: Despite a creeping increase in registered Democratic voters in recent years, Republicans still outnumber Democrats by nearly 50,000. The last Democrat to hold the seat was Bill Owens, who won a 2009 special election and retired in 2014.
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