Written by Pete DeMola for The Daily Gazette on August 25, 2020
JOHNSTOWN — Upstate New York is getting a moment in the national spotlight on Tuesday night.
The Johnstown Historical Society Museum will be featured in a segment to be aired at the Republican National Convention highlighting the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.
The clip will run Tuesday, the second night of the four-day convention held tore-nominatePresident Donald Trump for a second term.
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, filmed the clip at the museum last week with Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.
Activist and women’s rights advocate Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who played a leading role in the suffragist movement, was born in the city in 1815 and spent her formative years here.
“Obviously Elizabeth Cady Stanton to the women’s suffragist movement is extremely critical,” Stefanik said.
Johnstown is just one of many locations highlighting women’s suffrage, said Stefanik, who lobbied for the Fulton County city to be featured.
A room at the Johnstown Historical Society dedicated to Stanton and her father, congressman and state Supreme Court Judge Daniel Cady, contains childhood items owned by Stanton, including a piano, chair and photos.
“This is where she got the taste of suffrage, not only through her surroundings, but she felt the pangs in her own family,” said city historian Noel Levee.
Stanton wanted to enroll in Union College in Schenectady where all of her guy friends were going.
“And she wanted to go there too because her brother did,” Levee said.
But Cady instead opted to send his daughter to Troy Female Seminary, which was more of a finishing school, Levee said.
The brief clip features Stefanik and McDaniel discussing the importance of female leadership.
“To be in Johnstown, literally and figuratively walking in the footsteps of the suffragists 100 years after the 19th amendment was implemented, was a poignant reminder of the importance of using our voice and our vote in this election,” McDaniel said.
Stefanik hopes the high-profile spot will drive visitation to the city, where city Mayor Vernon Jackson said tourism has plummeted amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Filming came together quickly, said Jackson, who was thrilled at the national exposure.
“It can only put Johnstown on the map as a place where people can come and visit those sites,” Jackson said. “[Residents] are going to be, as I am, excited and proud that we’re getting on national TV.”
After leaving Johnstown, Stanton would make periodic visits back to her hometown with her friend Susan B. Anthony, including the summer of 1884.
“It was ironic because that year was the first time a woman in Johnstown applied to run for election on the Board of Education in Johnstown,” Levee said.
Both Stanton and Anthony threw their weight behind her candidacy.
“Naturally they went to bat for her,” Levee said. “And of course, she won.”
The 19th Amendment was formally ratified Aug. 18, 1920.
The anniversary comes when Republicans are struggling to retain women.
Women favor Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by 23 percentage points, according to an average of national polls since late June, the Washington Post reported earlier this month.
Trump has a checkered track record when it comes to women.
The president been accused of sexual assault multiple times and regularly makes comments that have been criticized as sexist.
Within hours after Biden tapped Kamala Harris as his pick for vice president earlier this month, Trump described her as “nasty” or “nastier” four times,reported the New York Times, terms he often uses for female opponents.
Trump has made courting suburban women a centerpiece of his re-election effort, and has said Democratic control of the White House portends cities overrun by crime and violence.
“Why would Suburban Women vote for Biden and the Democrats when Democrat run cities are now rampant with crime (and they aren’t asking the Federal Government for help) which could easily spread to the suburbs, and they will reconstitute, on steroids, their low income suburbs plan!” Trump wrote on Twitter Saturday, referring to his administration’s rollback of federal rules designed to prohibit housing discrimination.
Stefanik said she breaks with the president when necessary.
“Certainly when the president makes comments with which I disagree, I say so,” Stefanik said. “But I really look at his record.”
Stefanik pointed at Trump’s decision to tap women to serve in high-ranking positions, including Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Kellyanne Conway, the longtime adviser to the president who announced on Sunday she would be leaving her post by the end of the month.
“I’ve felt as a hardworking woman member of Congress, I’ve been able to work with the president,” Stefanik said. “He always gives us a seat at the table to make sure our views are represented.”
Women candidates are running in record numbers this year, and Stefanik has been recruiting candidates through E-PAC, her political action committee.
Many of them are winning crowded GOP primary races, Stefanik said.
“It’s a false assumption that the media often makes that the Democratic Party has a monopoly on women,” Stefanik said. “We know that’s not the case.”
McDaniel said it was the GOP that initially stood up for women’s right to vote, and Republicans continue to champion women’s issues.
“President Trump recognizes women as the whole voter, not just as single-issue voters, and women like myself will head to the polls this November knowing that their lives are better under his leadership,” McDaniel said.
Anthony was pardoned by Trump last week for voting illegally in 1872, a measure that drew rebuke from Democrats as an attempt to shore up the party’s sagging support among women.
“As highest ranking woman elected official in New York and on behalf of Susan B. Anthony’s legacy we demand Trump rescind his pardon,” Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul wrote on Twitter. “She was proud of her arrest to draw attention to the cause for women’s rights, and never paid her fine. Let her Rest In Peace, @realDonaldTrump.”
Stefanik will address the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, joining Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Conway, among others.
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