21ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT — Democratic Congressional challenger Matt Castelli still heavily trails incumbent U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Saratoga, in fundraising despite his best quarter yet in campaign donations, according to the latest figures from the campaigns.
Castelli collected more than $1 million from July to September, far exceeding any quarter so far in his bid to represent the 21st Congressional District, but he still lags far behind in overall fundraising. Stefanik reported quarterly gains of $2 million so far and an overall campaign war chest of $3 million. Castelli is reporting $800,000 in cash on hand in his bid for the North Country seat.
All Congressional committees are required to officially file earnings by Oct. 15.
“Voters know that I am the only choice for Congress who is from upstate New York, shares our values, and has a proven record of defending them,” Stefanik said in a press statement announcing recent gains.
Stefanik didn’t mention her opponent by name. In a statement provided to the Daily Gazette, senior campaign advisor Alex DeGrasse — also without mentioning Castelli by name — said Stefanik will sail to victory as a result of “historic grassroots support of small dollar donors across upstate NY and America.” DeGrasse also slammed the challenger as too weak to attract funding from deep-pocket sources.
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Castelli’s team touted its $1 million boost between July and September as a win devoid of corporate influence. Individual donations averaged $65, Castelli for Congress reported.
The campaign reported more than 10,000 individual donors and 15,000 individual contributions.
“Our campaign is proud to have never taken a dime from Nancy Pelosi because we are fueled by grassroots donors from across the political spectrum who believe in our message of putting NY-21 first,” Castelli said in a statement, “and are ready to fire Elise Stefanik for selling us out to advance her career.”
Since launching his campaign, the 41-year-old challenger has cast himself as a moderate alternative to Stefanik, who ranks as the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives. DeGrasse described the Glens Falls resident as a far-left Democrat with ties to downstate.
“That’s all upstate voters need to know,” DeGrasse said.
By the end of last quarter, Castelli’s campaign had raised 45% of its fundraising dollars from in-state individual donors, while Stefanik’s campaign had raised 19% of its fundraising dollars from in-state individual donors.
Stefanik’s last challenger, Tedra Cobb, raised $3.7 million more in 2020 than Castelli has collected to this point in the race. Should FEC data reflect self-reported data, though, Castelli is outpacing Cobb’s 2018 war chest by $500,000.
In 2014, Stefanik, then cast as a moderate, won the Congressional seat against Democrat Aaron Gladd. In each of her four congressional races, Stefanik has won with a margin of double-digit points.
Castelli’s campaign touted Monday an August internal poll that shows the challenger and Stefanik at a statistical tie. FiveThirtyEight, a polling-aggregation website, predicts that Castelli’s chances of victory are 1 in 99.
As a result of redistricting this year, Stefanik gained Republican-friendly ground in Montgomery County and parts of Schoharie County. The incumbent also ended up keeping Fort Drum, a major Republican stronghold.