Ballston businessman Jim Fischer has emerged as an early Republican challenger to square off against incumbent U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko during the election this fall.
Fischer, who founded the wireless communications sales and service company Crystal Clear Communications, said he will vie for the 20th Congressional District this year in an effort to unseat “career politicians” like Tonko. He said Tonko and like-minded federal legislators are taking the country in the wrong direction and will leave it in a poor condition for “generations to come.”
“I am focused on strengthening our economy and middle-class families while protecting our constitutional rights,” he said in a statement. “This is how we ensure our nation is better and stronger for our children and future generations.”
Fischer, who was endorsed Monday by the Saratoga County Republican Committee, said he’s focused on ensuring federal policies work to grow the economy and support job creators. He pledged to work toward repealing the Affordable Care Act — colloquially known as Obamacare — so that it can be replaced by a system based on free-market principles.
Saratoga County Republican Committee chairman John Herrick said Fischer was endorsed unanimously. Herrick said Fischer seems to have solutions to fix what is ailing the nation’s government.
“His entrepreneurial experience will be paramount in bringing small-business principles to governance, which is exactly what our country needs right now,” Herrick said in a statement. “Jim’s innovative ideas will help steer our country back onto a path of success and economic growth.”
A graduate of the state University of New York at Cortland with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Fischer is an active elder at the East Glenville Community Church, founded the Bill Swanker Memorial Golf Tournament benefiting the New York State Trooper Foundation, and is a member of the National Rifle Association as well as the National Organization for Marriage.
Tonko, a Democrat from Amsterdam, has been a formidable opponent since winning the seat vacated when U.S. Rep Michael McNulty retired in 2008. The longtime state assemblyman fought off four challengers in a primary before handily defeating Glenville Republican Jim Buhrmaster during the general election.
Tonko has since cruised to victory during his two re-election campaigns. In 2012, he won a third term by besting Glenville Republican Robert Dieterich by a roughly 2-1 ratio; he outspent Dieterich by slightly more than 4-1 in the campaign.
The 20th Congressional District includes all or parts of Schenectady, Saratoga, Albany, Montgomery and Rensselaer counties. Tonko is expected to seek a fourth term, though he hasn’t made any formal announcement.