Democrat Challenging Elise Stefanik in New York Suggests ‘Re-Education Camps’ for Trump Supporters To End ‘MAGA Nightmare’

Press outlets are comparing the statement to Senator Clinton’s 2016 remarks about ‘deprogramming’ Trump supporters.

AP/Andrew Harnik
Representative Elise Stefanik on Capitol Hill, January 25, 2023. AP/Andrew Harnik

The Democrat challenging Congresswoman Elise Stefanik to represent New York’s 21st district, Paula Collins, says Trump voters need a “re-education camp.” Now, after coming under fire for the remarks, she is doubling down on the idea and using the controversy to raise money for her campaign.

“Even if we were to have a resounding blue wave come through as many of us would like, putting it all back together again after we’ve gone through this MAGA nightmare and re-educating basically — that sounds like a, rather, a re-education camp,” Ms. Collins said.

She suggests using another term to make the idea more palatable. “I don’t think we really want to call it that, I’m sure we can [chuckles] find another way to phrase it,” Ms. Collins added.

Ms. Collins made the comments during a town hall meeting last week. She is running to replace Ms. Stefanik in Congress and works as a cannabis tax attorney at New York.

Ms. Stefanik released a statement calling on President Biden, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, and Senator Schumer “to unequivocally and immediately condemn” the re-education comments by Ms. Collins.

“This radical New York City Democrat Socialist who literally is renting a bed in NY-21 was caught on tape saying she wants to force Trump voters through ‘re-education camps,’” the senior adviser to Ms. Stefanik, Alex DeGrasse, says.

Press outlets are comparing her statement to Senator Clinton’s 2016 remarks about “deprogramming” Trump supporters. Instead of issuing an apology after the criticism, Ms. Collins doubled down.

“The NY Post likened me to Hillary Clinton! I’m honored,” Ms. Collins writes on her campaign website. “It’s clear that the Stefanik team is panicked.”

The Democratic challenger is using the publicity as an opportunity to raise money for her campaign. “Your donations today could help us defeat Elise Stefanik,” she says on the website directly below her comments.

“Help me stop Stefanik! Help me end the MAGA mania!” Ms. Collins says.

New York’s 21st district — in which Ms. Collins is challenging Ms. Stefanik — is described as solidly Republican, according to the Cook Political Report. While the incumbent, Ms. Stefanik, has access to $5 million, Ms. Collins has about six thousand dollars in cash and $11,130 in campaign debt. 

Though the district is unlikely to turn blue, the race could be shaken up if Ms. Stefanik became President Trump’s running mate, for which she is said to be under consideration.


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