BROADALBIN — Matt Castelli, the Democratic and Moderate Party candidate for New York’s 21st Congressional District, put his commitment to bipartisanship and defending abortion rights in states like New York from a proposed federal ban front-and-center during his speech at the Fulton County Democratic Party picnic Saturday.
“Folks are tired of the divisiveness, they’re tired of the extremes and they’re looking for a moderate — they’re looking for somebody who’s going to bring us together to get stuff done,” Castelli said. “So, we’re really focused on making sure we’re in a position to fight to reduce costs for working families and seniors and improve our economy. We’re focused on defending our personal freedoms, like a woman’s right to choose, as well as the 2nd Amendment. We’re focused on making sure we’re in a position to ensure the safety and the security of every single American by full funding our law enforcement, making sure we’re securing our borders, making sure we’re supporting our military and our veterans.”
Castelli’s points of emphasis echo the Moderate Party platform he released this past Monday that emphasized “Safety & Security” issues like funding for law enforcement and border security, issues usually emphasized by Republicans.
His speech in heavily-Republican Fulton County came four days after U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Saratoga, was one of 86 members of the House of Representatives who signed on as cosponsors of the House version of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s proposed 15-week nationwide abortion ban, dubbed the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act.
In a news release, Castelli blasted Stefanik’s endorsement of the bill.
“Elise Stefanik has sold out women by supporting this vast government overreach, and is completely out of step with the voters of NY-21 who don’t want the government in our bedrooms or our medical exam rooms,” he said in the release. “These politicians need to stay the hell out of where they don’t belong and stop regulating women’s bodies.”
Stefanik, who is also running on the Conservative Party line for the November election, became Chair of the House Republican Conference in 2021, the third-ranking GOP congressional rep after former conference chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, lost support among the House GOP for her unwillingness to defend former President Donald Trump’s actions leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021 riot and insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Since then, Stefanik’s role in the House has coincided with more overtly partisan rhetoric like her embrace of the “ultra-MAGA” label President Joe Biden has applied to the most extreme Republican supporters of Trump.
Castelli, a former independent who served in the CIA and as a Director of Counterterrorism under both President Barack Obama and Trump, has sought to emphasis his willingness to support the rule of law and federal law enforcement officials like FBI agents against what he’s characterized as the increasingly dangerous radicalism of “ultra-MAGA” Republicans, including Trump himself. and his willingness to take possession of Top secret documents that can place at risk the lives of people who helped obtain that information for the U.S. as well as his post social media posts criticizing specific FBI agents by name.
Stefanik, in previous congresses ,scored high on the Lugar Center’s ranking of congressional members bipartisanship. The Lugar score is based on having cosponsored legislation with members of the opposing party. For the 116th Congress, serving from 2019 to 2020, Stefanik ranked 13th out of all 435 representatives in the House for bipartisanship, higher than her rankings in the prior two congressional terms, when she was 19th and 14th respectively.
Many elections in Republican-dominated Fulton County — typically those for sheriff, district attorney and many judge races — feature no Democratic Party candidate, paradoxically putting the Democratic vote in play during general elections between GOP-endorsed candidates and registered Republican candidates running on independent lines.
Giardino, who rankled many Democrats and moderates for his strong stance against social gathering mandates from former Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the holiday season in 2020, struck a bipartisan tone during his speech emphasizing how political parties must play no role in how laws are enforced, prosecuted or in how court cases are judged in the judicial system. He praised Democratic state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s nonpartisan approach to his job after DiNapoli spoke at the picnic.
“In my capacity as a sheriff we frequently reach out to his office to get support for our investigative units and council’s office and they never say ‘Well, are you a Republican sheriff or a Democratic sheriff?’, and I think that that’s something to emulate, and I try to do the same with our office,” Giardino said. “I come every year [to the Democratic Party picnic] because I feel very strongly that because I’ve been given the opportunity to serve by the people of this community to serve as district attorney, judge and sheriff — no one lese in New York has ever done all three — and obviously I couldn’t do all of that with just one party, and I feel it’s important with every job I’ve had to serve everyone in this community.”