Former CIA officer announces candidacy for Stefanik’s House seat

Matt Castelli campaign

Former CIA officer Matt Castelli announced his candidacy for the U.S. House on Wednesday, seeking to oust Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) from her post.

Castelli, who is running as a Democrat in New York’s 21st Congressional District, said Stefanik violated her oath of office on Jan. 6, the day the Capitol was attacked by a pro-Trump mob, which he called “another watershed moment for each of us to step up and serve, just like 9/11.”

“It hasn’t been lost on me that Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and I took the same oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. But it’s clear to me, and countless other Americans, that she violated her oath that day. And in the weeks and months that followed,” Castelli said in a video announcing his candidacy.

He said he was launching a bid for the House “to continue to uphold my oath.” And he added that Stefanik, a four-term congresswoman recently elevated to House Republican leadership, is “seeking to create division for her own personal gain.”

Stefanik’s campaign slammed Castelli, without naming him, following his announcement on Wednesday, criticizing the candidate for comparing the Jan. 6 riots to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“Downstate Democrat Matt Castelli, who disgracefully compared January 6th to the terrorist attacks on 9/11 during the week of the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, is now the third Far-Left Democrat to register in NY-21 less than one month before launching their campaign,” Alex DeGrasse, senior advisor to Stefanik, said in a statement.

The Democratic field includes former speed skater Bridie Farrell, who launched a bid for Stefanik’s seat in July. Upstate New York attorney Matt Putorti and Wilson, N.Y., resident Ezra Watson are also running for the democratic nomination.

Republican Lonny Koons is also challenging the congresswoman from the right.

Castelli said the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks inspired him to serve his country, which led to his nearly 15-year tenure at the CIA, where he was involved in intelligence collection and counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He also served as a counterterrorism official in both the Obama and Trump administrations. He was director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council from 2016 to 2018.

Castelli left government work in 2020 to join a veteran-founded technology company, based in New York, that seeks to eliminate barriers to health care for veterans, rural communities and minorities.

Stefanik was hoisted to the national stage earlier this year when House Republicans voted to elevate her to House Republican Conference chair after ousting Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from the role for her anti-Trump stance.

Tags Elise Stefanik Liz Cheney Matt Castelli
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