Few would have predicted that one of President Donald Trump’s strongest defenders in the House impeachment hearings would be a Republican congresswoman who on occasion has been critical of him.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., has attracted public attention for her spirited defense of the president and her status as the only GOP woman on the House Intelligence Committee.
Those attributes came to the fore during the impeachment inquiry as Stefanik asked questions of Marie Yovanovich, a former ambassador to Ukraine. Skirting procedural rules, the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., tried to yield a portion of his time for asking questions to Stefanik.
When the committee’s chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., repeatedly interrupted Stefanik and cut her off, Trump’s defenders could claim that sexist Democrats in the hearing had silenced a woman and prevented Republicans from asking questions.
Here are five things to know about Stefanik:
1. When elected to Congress, she was the youngest woman ever to win.
In a landslide victory over Democratic candidate Aaron Woolf in 2014, Stefanik became, at age 30, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, as well as the first Republican candidate to win her district in 21 years. She won 53 percent of the vote to 32.5 percent for Woolf and 10.6 percent for a Green Party candidate. (Another New Yorker, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in November 2018 broke Stefanik’s record when she was elected at age 29.)
In her 2014 campaign, Stefanik worked hard to win the trust and confidence of voters, driving more than 100,000 miles through upstate New York’s 21st Congressional District. The district covers 12 counties, stretching north to the Canadian border and east to the border with Vermont.
She said that voters told her she was too young to run for office, but she won the election despite their doubts.