4th Democrat launches bid against U.S. Rep. Stefanik

Former CIA operative Matt Castelli announced he is running for the Democratic nomination for the House seat in NY-21 in a video Wednesday. Photo provided

WILTON — A fourth Democrat has announced their bid for the House seat to represent New York’s 21st Congressional District.

Former CIA officer and counterterrorism official Matthew T. Castelli announced his candidacy in a video and press statement sent early morning Wednesday. In it, he recalled the events of 9/11 and how they inspired him to join the intelligence agency after graduating from Siena College, Loudonville, and remain in counterterrorism under both Presidents Barack H. Obama and Donald J. Trump.

“The Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and our democracy marked another watershed moment for each of us to step up and serve, just like 9/11,” he said. “It hasn’t been lost on me that Congresswoman Elise Stefanik took the same oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.”

Castelli, who was born in Poughkeepsie and now lives in Saratoga County, said U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, who has supported efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in favor of former President Trump, violated her oath Jan. 6 and has continued to do so. According to his announcement, the events of the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol were what prompted him to run for Congress in the 21st District, after working with a New York City-based health and social service care company, Unite NYC.

He said in the coming weeks he will officially launch his campaign and travel across the 21st District to meet voters and work towards a future vision.

Castelli joins a relatively crowded Democratic field — since April, three other candidates have announced their candidacies. Fellow Wilton resident Ezra Watson, as well as former U.S. speedskater Bridie Farrell and lawyer Matthew F. Purtorti have all thrown their hats in the ring to run against Rep. Stefanik.

The Stefanik campaign responded to Mr. Castelli’s announcement within 15 minutes of his announcement with a statement from Alex DeGrasse, Rep. Stefanik’s senior advisor.

DeGrasse branded Castelli as a far-left Democrat, much the same way he’s described the other three Democrats in the race so far.

“Candidates that compare January 6th to the terrorist attacks on 9/11 that killed thousands of Americans are fundamentally not serious and deeply out of touch with North Country values,” he said.

DeGrasse vowed that Rep. Stefanik will continue to represent north country voters and support military families, veterans and national security as a whole into the future, but said now was not the time for politics.

“There is plenty of time for politics in the months ahead of the grueling and crowded Democrat primary in New York’s 21st District,” he said. “The week of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 is not that time.”

*Editor's note: This story corrects an earlier version about Castelli's birthplace. He was born in Poughkeepsie and now lives in Saratoga County.

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