Once a moderate Republican, Elise Stefanik is now at the center of the anger over the Buffalo shooting

Once a moderate Republican, Elise Stefanik is now at the center of the anger over the Buffalo shooting
Elise Stefanik walks through the halls of the US Capitol holding a bag and drink in both hands.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • Rep. Elise Stefanik has been tweeting up a storm following the Buffalo shooting.

  • The Washington Post ran a story on her past comments mirroring replacement theory rhetoric.

  • Stefanik doubled down, accusing the Democrats of boosting voter rolls with undocumented immigrants.

When Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York first arrived in Congress back in 2015, she had just flipped a Democratic-held district and earned plaudits as a moderate Republican candidate focused on bipartisan cooperation.

Toward the end of President Barack Obama's second term, she boosted her reputation for recruiting women to run for office under the GOP line.

Then along came Donald Trump.

Increasingly, the Upstate New York lawmaker has transformed herself into a Republican in the mold of the new MAGA GOP. It's evident in her rapid rise through the party's leadership ranks in the wake of fellow GOP Rep. Liz Cheney's troubles for criticizing Trump following the January 6 insurrection. It's evident from Trump's prediction back in January that she'd even "be president in about 6 years."

And now it's been driven home via Stefanik's rhetoric surrounding the fatal mass shooting in Buffalo over the weekend.

Stefanik initially responded to the shooting Saturday night with a standard condolence tweet and then spent Sunday going after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the nationwide baby formula shortage. But the gloves were off by Monday morning once she had put out dual statements from herself and from a campaign spokesperson.

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The precipitating event prompting the statements: a Washington Post article titled "Stefanik echoed racist theory allegedly espoused by Buffalo suspect."

The Post story highlighted her past comments on immigration, which echoed the alleged shooter's writings on white replacement theory. The white supremacist theory posits that Democrats and a cabal of elites are plotting to diminish the influence of white Americans by increasing the number of people of color in the population.

Although she did not mention the theory by name, the way Stefanik framed illegal immigration as a way to "overthrow our current electorate" uses the same themes to evoke a sense of fear and incoming siege.

"Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION," one of Stefanik's campaign ads said. "Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington."

The editorial board of the Albany Times-Union responded at the time by saying Stefanik "isn't so brazen as to use the slogans themselves; rather, she couches the hate in alarmist anti-immigrant rhetoric that's become standard fare for the party of Donald Trump."

A Stefanik spokesperson, Alex deGrasse, responded to the Post story before Stefanik began tweeting through the controversy overnight.

"Any implication or attempt to blame the heinous shooting in Buffalo on the Congresswoman is a new disgusting low for the Left, their Never Trump allies, and the sycophant stenographers in the media," deGrasse said in a statement before going on to call the shooting "an act of evil."

Early Monday morning, Stefanik doubled down on baselessly accusing the Democratic Party of padding the voter rolls with undocumented immigrants.

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"Democrats desperately want wide open borders and mass amnesty for illegals allowing them to vote," she tweeted on Sunday night. "Like the vast majority of Americans, Republicans want to secure our borders and protect election integrity."

Stefanik defended an argument that's barely a few degrees from what the Post pointed out as an example of more mainstreamed white supremacist rhetoric.

The claim that Democrats are trying to register undocumented immigrants as new voters has been debunked, and it doesn't take into consideration potential upside of legalized status for the GOP given Trump's overall improved standing with Latino voters.

Like Trump, Stefanik took to counter punching when put on the defensive and turned the scrutiny of her record into outrage against her political opponents as well as undocumented immigrants.

"I continue to go on offense every day against Joe Biden & House Democrats' radical agenda," she tweeted Monday afternoon.

Stefanik's latest wave of comments comes on the heels of her recent remarks that Democrats and the White House are "pedo grifters" for sending baby formula to undocumented children in US custody.

(A staffer for her constituent office later attempted to clarify she was calling them children engaged in grifting, not pedophiles.)

Stefanik is running for reelection effectively unopposed in her district's GOP primary, and is favored to win a 5th term in November — though the precise parameters of her district are only just now being finalized after the state legislature's map was thrown out for overly advantaging Democrats.

Read the original article on Business Insider