The rapid rise of Representative Elise Stefanik of New York to the post of chief pro-Trump messenger in the ongoing battle for the soul of the G.O.P. has sparked a flurry of media reports about how a supposed onetime moderate Republican metamorphosed into a full-fledged fire-breathing far-right conservative.
But for those who have been following Ms. Stefanik’s career since she emerged on the political scene in the 2014 battle for an open congressional seat in New York’s North Country, her embrace of Trumpism and elevation on Friday to the No. 3 role in the House G.O.P. don’t come as any big surprise.
The reality is that Ms. Stefanik has always been a shape-shifter, driven more by the political zeitgeist than any strongly rooted ideology.
Her single-minded drive to succeed has long been well known, starting from her first congressional run, at the age of 30, when she successfully sought to be the youngest woman elected to the House at the time. Her ambition, a trait for which her male colleagues are frequently praised, sparked routine — and frankly sexist — comparisons to Reese Witherspoon’s cutthroat student politician character Tracy Flick in the 1999 film “Election.”
Ms. Stefanik has a well-established track record of recognizing opportunities and seizing them, molding herself and her message to fit the moment. When her Democratic predecessor Representative Bill Owens abruptly announced in January 2014 he would not seek re-election, she was already six months into her campaign — positioning herself as a fresh-faced newcomer who would usher a […]
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