Plattsburgh, NY — One day before the New York primary, Democratic candidates Matt Castelli and Matt Putorti made their final push for the nomination to take on Rep. Elise Stefanik in the 21st Congressional District.
Castelli talked to voters in Plattsburgh on Monday. He says he feels confident heading into the election and believes his experience in the CIA gives him the best chance to defeat Stefanik.
“I think voters understand and one of the proof points in this election is that we are the strongest campaign to take on Stefanik and defeat her in November,” said Castelli. “That’s why we have such strong support among Democrats, unanimous support of the party, so many voters we anticipate are going to be voting for us tomorrow.”
Late last week, the Daily Mail reported that, while serving as director of counterterrorism for the National Security Council, Castelli allegedly drank on the job and had sex with multiple female colleagues. The story relied on unnamed sources and alleged that Castelli, who worked in both the Obama and Trump administrations, was forced out of his position,
In a statement to the Daily Mail, Castelli said the allegations are “clearly a political hit job from allies of Elise Stefanik.”
On Monday, Castelli again forcefully denied the report.
“Lies and garbage,” he said. “And it’s very, very telling that Stefanik and her folks are inserting themselves and trying to influence this primary because they’re scared.
“She understands that I am someone who has served my country, protected my country admirably and with distinction and that she’s a traitor.”
Putorti spoke about what makes him the best candidate to defeat Stefanik and represent the North Country.
“I don’t think our district has suffered from a lack of moderation, it’s suffered from a lack of representation and there’s a lot of things at stake with this election,” he said.” We don’t need to moderate these issues, we just need elected officials with the courage to say these are the solutions, they have broad support. Let us take action to implement them because all of these things will help our families.”
Putorti also said while he does support the Second Amendment, he is the only candidate who supports an assault weapons ban because it will reduce violence and keep people safe.
Meanwhile, Harvey Schantz, a political science professor at SUNY Plattsburgh, believes this primary election will have major political importance.
“The Democratic Primary in New York 21 is of national interest because this primary will decide the candidate who will oppose the third -anking Republican in the United States,” he said. “Anything can happen, but for a Democrat to win this district there has to be a real change in the underlying dynamics in how the race is shaping up as of now.”
Schantz says that while NY-21 has historically been a Republican stronghold, it is possible for a moderate Democrat to win, as Bill Owens did in 2009, but admits it is an uphill battle for any Democrat in the district.
Polls in New York open at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m.