From the Morning Memo:

Republican Elise Stefanik today is formally announcing her re-election campaign in NY-21, a closely divided district in the North Country that the two political parties have traded back and forth for several election cycles running.

In a statement, the freshman lawmaker said her top priority since she was first elected in 2014 has been “keeping my promises to bring a new generation of leadership to Congress, and to demonstrate a new approach with a focus on accountability and transparency, accessibility through hundreds of community events to hear directly from constituents, and by prioritizing legislation that helps people to raise a family or make a living in the North Country, not make it harder.”

Almost two years ago, Stefanik became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at the age of 30. She received considerable attention as a result, with fashion magazine spreads and numerous national newspaper and TV interviews.

She has parlayed that attention into a strong fundraising operation, with her campaign announcing it has raised $236,000 in the fourth quarter of 2015, and a total of $1.3 million last year – the highest off-year haul in NY-21 history.

Stefanik is starting her second congressional run with $928,000 on hand, her campaign said. The congresswoman plans to seek the Conservative and Independence Party lines as well as her own party’s line.

In 2014, Stefanik defeated Watertown investment banker Matt Doheny in the GOP primary, 61-39. That was Doheny’s third unsuccessful run, he had tried previously to take out Stefanik’s Democratic predecessor, Bill Owens, in 2010 and 2012.

Owens, who first took office after winning a 2009 special election that drew national attention, abruptly announced in early 2014 that he would not seek re-election, sending the Democrats scrambling to find a replacement candidate. They settled on Brooklyn filmmaker Aaron Woolf, who, like Stefanik, was a transplant to the area.

Woolf ran what was by all accounts a deeply flawed campaign, and lost big to Stefanik (53-29) in the general election, though she was helped by the fact that Woolf had to split the left with the Green Party’s candidate, Matt Funiciello, who received just over 10 percent of the vote.

Funiciello has said he plans to run again this year, and will announce his candidacy in March.

On the Democratic side, a retired US Army colonel and missile defense expert who is a native of Peru in Clinton County, Mike Derrick, announced last summer that he intended to take on Stefanik this year.

Stefanik, like her two predecessor, has served on the House Armed Service Committee, and made preserving and protecting Fort Drum a top priority since she was elected.

Derrick has not yet made his most recent fundraising numbers available, but as of last fall, he was trailing Stefanik considerably in the money race.

As of last November, NY-21 had 111,864 active enrolled Democrats, 163,491 Republicans, 5,860 Conservative Party members, 23,800 Independence Party members and 79,765 “blanks” who are unaffiliated with any political party.