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Former Congressman Owens endorses Castelli in North Country House race

Bill Owens
Owens for Congress
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Former NY 21 Democratic Congressman Bill Owens

Former North Country Congressman Bill Owens has endorsed Democratic candidate Matt Castelli in northern New York’s Congressional primary.

First-time candidate Castelli is a former CIA officer and counterterrorism official. He is running in the Democratic primary, hoping to unseat fourth-term Republican Elise Stefanik in November. Castelli said he is hearing similar concerns about issues from constituents across the region including disappointment about the number three House Republican.

“But there’s another thing I often hear: Have you talked to Bill Owens yet? I certainly have had the good fortune of speaking with Bill over the past few months and benefitting tremendously from his advice and counsel. I am excited to announce that Bill will be joining our team." Castelli continues, "Bill knows what it takes to win in the North Country because he’s done it. And people throughout New York-21 know what it’s like to have a representative that is a true public servant. One that is focused on the issues that matter most to improving the daily lives of working families because they used to have one in Bill Owens.”

Considered a Blue Dog Democrat, Bill Owens said Castelli has the background, experience and personal commitment to hold the job of congressperson.

“I think he’s a person who has had the experience of serving the nation in a number of different roles that are significant, that give him a wonderful insight into foreign policy and issues that will have national impact but at the same time he’s in a position to understand what our friends and neighbors need every day. And that to me is one of the most important aspects of his character and that’s why I’m out here supporting him. I think it’s that important.”

Owens, the first Democrat to hold the seat in more than a century, was in Congress from 2009 before retiring in 2014. He continued with a scathing criticism of his successor:

“Unfortunately our Congresswoman is basically focused on D.C. and not spending time in her communities understanding what is needed by so many people. She takes positions that are purely radical, not even Republican, they are simply radical positions.”

Stefanik announced her own endorsement from former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and downplayed the endorsement by Owens. In a statement, her campaign shot back that Owens has “endorsed every losing Democratic candidate that Congresswoman Stefanik handily beat in every campaign.”

While Castelli has received the endorsement from former Congressman Owens, he trails primary opponent Matt Putorti in fundraising. According to December 31st FEC filings Putorti has raised over $533,000 to Castelli’s $442,000. Putorti says their campaign is focused on interacting with voters across the district.

“We’ve raised the most amount of money since we entered this race, more than any other candidate. Part of this is to be able to translate that into getting out the vote. And so we are not slowing down. We are not stopping. We are going to make sure that we continue to raise the money we need to run a very strong campaign," says Putorti. "The importance that I place is on the voters themselves because they’re the ones who are ultimately going to decide this election.”

Castelli also faces Bridie Farrell, Ezra Watzon and Keith Sherrill.

Republican Lonny Koons is challenging Stefanik in a primary.

Owens is a commentator for WAMC.

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