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Democrat announces run to unseat Stefanik

Matt F. Putorti, a Democratic candidate for Congress in New York’s 21st District. (Photo provided)

A lawyer and Democrat from New York City has announced his plans to run for Congress in New York’s 21st District.

Matt F. Putorti, a 37-year-old Glens Falls-born, Whitehall-raised man who has worked in New York City’s legal industry since 2010, announced his candidacy with a video Monday.

In his announcement, Putorti slammed the district’s current congresswoman, Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, for her ties to former President Donald J. Trump, saying she puts small towns, and their sense of community, at risk with her rhetoric.

He described Whitehall, and other small upstate New York communities, as “spaghetti dinner towns,” or places where neighbors can share a meal and come together regardless of their political opinions. But he also said Stefanik’s embrace of the “Big Lie” perpetuated by Mr. Trump, that the 2020 election was fraudulent, is ripping those communities apart.

“Elise Stefanik is ripping apart the fabric of our community by bringing the divisiveness of our current politics to the North Country,” he said in a statement.

According to his campaign, Mr. Putorti moved back to Washington County after the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, and Stefanik’s vote against certifying the election results from Pennsylvania.

As a lawyer, most recently at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, Purorti focused on litigating commercial and business insurance cases, as well as complex commercial disputes. He has also done pro-bono work, representing the cities of New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco in a suit to require the U.S. Department of Defense to report any information it has on service members that may disqualify them from purchasing a gun.

Putorti has also represented a number of transgender people in court proceedings to legally change their names, and an unaccompanied minor.

Putorti said he plans to focus on bringing good-paying jobs to the region, securing high-quality and affordable health care and ensuring public schools are serving their students needs in his campaign.

He described himself as a “gay man of faith,” a practicing Catholic and a service-driven member of the community.

“I do think that being gay gives a different perspective in leadership, which is important,” Putorti said.

He is the fourth generation of an Italian-American family, and his parents are the third generation to own Putorti’s Broadway Market, a grocery story in the village of Whitehall.

After graduating from the Whitehall public school district, Mr. Putorti studied at Boston College and received his law degree from Fordham University.

Alongside his announcement, Mr. Putorti announced his campaign team, which includes Eric Hyers, who has worked on a number of winning gubernatorial campaigns in Kentucky, Montana and Rhode Island, and was most recently the Michigan state director for the Biden campaign.

His team also includes Mauranda Stahl, former communications manager for Tedra Cobb, the Democratic candidate who ran against Stefanik in 2018 and 2020. Purtorti filed his statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on Monday and Cobb urged supporters to donate to Putorti’s campaign in a tweet Monday, hours after the filing was made public.

Stefanik reacted to Putorti’s announcement in a statement Monday, decrying him as a “far-left socialist Democrat,” the same words she used to describe Cobb in 2020.

“The Stefanik campaign will continue to make sure voters know the choice next November between real results for the North Country versus another far-left socialist who will be a rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and Andrew Cuomo’s failed policies,” said Alex DeGrasse, an aide to Rep. Stefanik.

Putorti is the fourth candidate to announce he is running for Congress in New York’s 21st District. He’s running for the Democratic nomination against Ezra Watson, a Wilton, Saratoga County native whose running on a progressive, climate-focused message. Stefanik is also facing a Republican challenge from Lonny Koons, a Carthage-area veteran running as a working-class man who says he is running to represent the “average American.”

All four candidates have a while to go before their first election — the primary elections for this race will be held in July 2022 before the general election on Nov. 8, 2022.

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