Retired Army colonel seeks to challenge Congress’s youngest woman

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A retired Army colonel announced Wednesday that he would seek the Democratic nomination to take on freshman Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) in next year’s election.

“The North Country where I grew up was a place where families looked out for each other, kids got a great education and we all believed that, with hard work, a bright future was possible,” retired Col. Mike Derrick said in a statement. “That’s my vision for our future and that’s what I’ll fight for in Congress.”

{mosads}A 1985 West Point graduate, Derrick spent 28 years in the Army on active duty and reserve forces. He served various tours in South Korea, Germany, Iraq, Hawaii and Colorado.

Before his retirement in 2013, Derrick led a 22-nation missile defense war game for the U.S. Strategic Command. He later advised the State Department on missile defense matters.

At 30, Stefanik is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, an important appointment for the upstate district that is home to Fort Drum, one of the New York’s largest employers.

The base faces an uncertain future as the Army continues to downsize.

Republican leaders have worked to showcase Stefanik since her arrival on Capitol Hill, hoping her age can help the GOP connect with younger voters. She recently chaired a House hearing about “Millennials and the GOP” organized by the Republican Policy Committee, an arm of leadership.

Derrick’s announcement comes after Aaron Woolf, who ran unsuccessfully for the blue-leaning seat in 2014, announced he wouldn’t run again in 2016. 

“I’m running for Congress to make sure that my hometown of Peru and all of the communities in New York’s 21st District have the opportunity to thrive and grow,” said Derrick, a married father of four.

“Unfortunately, with the paralysis and stagnation in Congress right now, that’s not happening. Politicians are more concerned with their own political interests than the interests of the people they represent. I’m going to change that,” he added.

The GOP was quick to claim that Derrick had chosen the wrong team for New York’s interests.

“We look forward to seeing which policies of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi that Mike Derrick actually thinks have been good for the North Country,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Chris Pack said in a statement.

“While Derrick is busy defending the failed policies of Obama and Pelosi, Elise Stefanik will continue focusing on protecting Fort Drum, strengthening our national defense, and growing the North Country economy,” he said.

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