From the article:

Patrick Nelson personally canvassed neighborhoods in his hometown of Stillwater in Saratoga County last Tuesday.

“For me to put on pair of sneakers and go door to door, I’m a happy guy,” he said.

The candidate is a familiar sight. Nelson sits on the Saratoga Democratic Party Committee and petitions for local candidates every two years, as well as for state and federal representatives.

Nelson ran for local office in 2015 and has worked on the campaigns of the past two Democratic nominees, including serving as Mike Derrick’s field director in 2016.

“It’s exciting,” said Nelson, who has modeled his volunteer-driven campaign after that of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. “It’s good we have something really important to have our volunteers do.”

Nelson said training new volunteers is an exercise in itself that helps democracy in the long run, creating the next generation of leadership.

“It’s my hope the people volunteering for the campaign and working for us now will become committee members and run for local office and state and county office,” he said.


Stillwater, NY – Our democracy has been suspended, indefinitely, due to our greedy political leaders and the influence of big money in politics. Justice Democrat Patrick Nelson (D-Stillwater), who is seeking the Congressional seat in New York’s 21st District, has vowed not to accept corporate PAC and lobbyist money. He is a true progressive who believes in reinstating democracy. Because of Patrick's commitment to true progressive values, North Country Our Revolution has taken notice.

“Members of the progressive political organization North Country Our Revolution have decided to endorse Democratic Congressional candidate for NY 21, Patrick Nelson,” said JP Burns, an organizer for the local affiliate of Our Revolution, a political activist group with chapters all across the United States. “Patrick is a Justice Democrat which means he is refusing to take corporate PAC money. We have met with the progressive candidates in this particular race, and he is best aligned with our values and policies.”

Progressives have been flipping seats across the nation due to their platform. The uphill battle against the corporate wing of the Democratic Party and the DCCC has been tough. The establishment has chosen candidates who are groomed and trained to work for them instead of their constituents. In fact, the DCCC continues to push failed political strategies on its candidates like not running on popular policies like Medicare-for-All. North Country Our Revolution plans to change that by endorsing candidates like Patrick.

Our Revolution was formed after  Senator Bernie Sanders’ run for the presidency in 2016 to continue the mission to get people involved in the political process and work to elect progressive candidates.

“We believe candidates like Patrick Nelson are the leaders who will help to change our political system,” Burns added.


The youngest member of New York’s 21st Congressional District race has been running the longest.

Twenty-nine-year-old Democratic candidate Patrick Nelson, of Stillwater, announced his bid for Congress on Jan. 19, 2017, the last day of Barack Obama’s term in the White House. Even before Rep. Elise Stefanik took the oath for her second two-year term, Nelson became her first challenger to enter the race.

Now, over a year later, he continues to run on a vision of a government that shrugs off corruption and works for citizens’ freedoms and opportunities.

Nelson worked on former New York 21 candidate Aaron Woolf’s campaign and as a delegate for 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. In 2016 he was a field director for Democratic NY21 candidate Mike Derrick. Losing the election to Republican incumbent Stefanik on the same day President Donald Trump was elected was made worse when he had to shut down the campaign offices after losing, which he said is the saddest part of a field director’s job.

After spending time in a “couch burrito” following the election, Nelson got involved again, offering “strike support” for Momentive Performance Materials workers striking for a unity contract at the chemical plant in Saratoga County, where he lives. During the 105-day strike Nelson brought workers food, hand warmers and even scraps of his church’s old carpet to keep their burn barrels going.

Doing this work energized him again as he started talking with friends over beers about what kind of campaign he would run if he was a candidate. He said he wants to run on small donations with a focus on digital media and a desire to talk about partisan issues like an adult.

Nelson said there is always common ground to be found between people, and that he does not like issues such as climate change treated like “political footballs.”

One of the issues he believes should be treated with bipartisan tact is health care. While there is a lot of debate about how to solve it, he said he believes he can find common ground with anyone on the fact that the current system is flawed and needs changing.

He said the U.S. spends the most on health care per capita out of any country in the industrial world — $10,000 — while countries such as France, which covers all citizens, spend around $4,400.

More people in the system, he said, increases negotiation strength and eliminates corporate bureaucracy. He said doctors offices are just billing practices that happen to practice medicine, that the system is wasteful and that since the law of supply and demand does not apply the same to health care, it does not work as a free market.

“The free market in health care is sort of a special area where it is not functionally able to control price,” Nelson said. “[Voters] understand that you never see a sale on open heart surgery, you don’t see ‘get three valves, the fourth is free.’ If you don’t need the procedure, if you don’t need the health care, you are not going to go seek it. The amount of demand that we give a health care procedure is a function of the people that need it, not a function of the price. You could raise the price 10 times, and the amount demanded would be about the same.”

Environment and military

Nelson was critical of Stefanik’s approach to environmental policy, calling it “superficial” and saying though she says she cares, her statements have no beef.

If she wanted to make environmental change, he said she would support H.R.3671, the “Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act,” which resolves to completely transition away from fossil fuel energy by 2035. Though this would be an expensive and complicated shift, he said the funds already exist.

“The way we pay for that is by taking away the massive subsidies that we’re giving away to fossil fuel companies,” Nelson said. “You couldn’t justify, in the ’60s or ’70s, giving away massive subsidies to the tobacco companies, so why are we giving them to the fossil fuel companies that are doing for our environment what the tobacco companies were doing for our lungs?”

Nelson wants to apply the same method of budget reorganization he suggests for fossil fuel companies to the military, the nation’s largest annual expense. He said the Pentagon has misplaced trillions of taxpayer dollars funding projects like the $1.5 trillion F-35-fighter. In his words, the F-35 combines A-10 “Warthog” and F-16 planes with stealth and vertical takeoff technology. He said this new aircraft is not serving its job as well as the planes that have been used for 40 years, but that it keeps going because its parts are made in 48 states and the majority of congressional districts.

Without taking money from military contractors, corporate PACs or lobbyists, Nelson said he will have the freedom to ask, “Is this the best way we can spend our money?”

He proposed cutting the military budget, not in defense, salaries or veteran care, but in “national offense” and in projects that pay dividends to the contractors who fund politicians’ campaigns.

Nelson said veteran services is one of the reasons he initially got into politics, and that he wants to fill the 49,000 vacant positions in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Wages, welfare and student loans

A graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, Nelson said he holds thousands of dollars in debt through student loans, much like many of the nation’s future leaders and innovators. He proposed an incentive program for people with student loans who want to start businesses, creating new companies, jobs and technology.

He said there are loan forgiveness programs for rural doctors, attorneys, nurses and social workers, but none for business owners and entrepreneurs.

Nelson also said he wants to help people avoid falling into the “welfare trap,”where it becomes more profitable for someone to receive state aid than to find employment. He said public benefits should taper off as those that receive them earn more money.

“You should never be in a situation where an additional dollar of income costs you more than a dollar’s worth of benefits,” Nelson said.

On a related note, Nelson also wants to raise the minimum wage to push back against wage suppression. He said wage suppression does not happen because of malevolent employers, but because businesses make more money the less they pay their employees. He said this is an example of people making smart decisions that benefit themselves but collectively compromise the system.

“The state is there to solve the problem that smart, individual decisions can be collectively disastrous,” Nelson said. “It’s overfishing the pond. As an individual it makes sense for me to get as much fish out of the pond as I can. But if you’re doing it, and everybody else is doing it, sooner or later there’s no more fish left. Our government exists in a situation where we come together and say ‘Hey, nobody take more than X fish from the pond so that we never overfish the pond and we can all keep doing it.'”

Though Nelson has been critical of Stefanik and Republican ideals such as “trickle-down economics,” he was also critical of the Democratic Party, saying it has lost touch with its roots as a “party of the people” and sold out to corporate money.

Nelson has sworn to not take corporate money and said he wants to set an example in Congress for other politicians to follow.

As of Jan. 21 Nelson had raised $36,084 and spent $31,266, according to Federal Election Commission data. Just over 50 percent of donations come from within the 21st District, and just under 90 percent come from within the state. Of those donations, just under 70 percent are classified as “small individual contributions,”which are donations under $200.



oin Look TV as we sit down with Patrick Nelson, he’s a possible candidate for the 21st Congressional District. He’s here to talk with us about how his campaign is going & to hear from him his positions on some of the hot button issues that are being discussed on the National Stage.


The anguished voices of the Parkland, Florida school shooting survivors have risen above potent and previously unbending National Rifle Association chatter and already sparked gun policy changes and bipartisan legislative discussions about assault weapon laws.

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, strongly supports hearing from the students at Parkland, spokesman Tom Flanagin said on Wednesday.

“It's critical to the discussion to hear about the experiences of those who were on campus and to listen to their ideas about how to ensure school safety,” Flanagin said on behalf of the congresswoman.

Following the Parkland mass shooting that killed 17 and, more recently, the arrest of a Poultney, Vermont, teen after he allegedly threatened to kill students at Fair Haven Union High School in Vermont, local law enforcement officials and parents have held several town halls and discussion sessions to express fears and offer potential solutions, including arming teachers and armed guards on campuses.

“Locally, our offices have also heard from families who are concerned about school safety in our region,” Flanagin said. “Congresswoman Stefanik has close relationships with our local law enforcement departments, teachers and school superintendents and will be engaging with them on possible solutions to ensure safe environments for our students.”

But Stefanik does not believe mandatory arming of teachers without proper training is the appropriate solution.

“We do need to have a conversation about greater security on our campuses and that conversation should entail potentially including properly trained, armed guards on campuses if the local school districts support this,” said Flanagin for Stefanik, who remains a second Amendment advocate.

“She is open to commonsense solutions that do not infringe on the constitutional liberties of law-abiding citizens,” said Flanagin. “Congresswoman Stefanik supports commonsense solutions that can help stop these tragedies from occurring.”

NY-21 Democratic congressional candidate Patrick Nelson said Thursday that there are several solutions most everyone agrees on like banning bump stocks and expanded background checks.

"If there is common ground, let's not hold up what we agree on and get them passed," Nelson said. "Let's put away partisan-ism and push through what we all agree on."

Stefanik is a co-sponsor of legislation that would ban bump stocks, and last Friday, she joined a bipartisan effort to ask House Speaker Paul Ryan to bring up standalone legislation that she is co-sponsoring to improve the background check system.

According to Flanagin, Stefanik co-sponsored two pieces of legislation on Tuesday — H.R. 4909, STOP School Violence Act of 2018, and H.R. 4811, Securing Our Schools Act of 2018 — to make schools safer, and she will continue working with her colleagues on this issue.

“These two pieces of legislation that I am supporting today are commonsense reforms to prevent gun violence in schools and better protect our children,” Stefanik said in a news release.

H.R. 4909 would invest in early intervention and prevention programs to stop school violence before it happens by authorizing Department of Justice state grant awards for training students, school personnel and law enforcement to identify signs of violence and intervention methods.

H.R. 4811 would provide grant funding for devices that immediately notify emergency response personnel and law enforcement, or other devices that allow for appropriate officials in the case of an emergency.

Nelson added that getting rid of the Dickey Amendment, a 1996 law that restricts the Centers for Disease Control from researching gun violence, would help inform decisions by bringing data to gun control solutions. 


Patrick Nelson focused his comments largely on the environment.

“For the 18 years of my life, I grew up drinking water that was laced with carcinogenic PCBs as a result of dumping that was done at the GE plant in Fort Edward many many years before I was born,” said Nelson, a political activist and former state legislative aide who lives in Stillwater, Saratoga County.

But public policy is largely driven by corporate donors, he said, calling on attendees to reject what he argued was money’s toxic influence on politics, which he said leads to a continued reliance on fossil fuels.

Nelson asked the crowd to make responsible decisions when it comes to combating climate change.

“If we do not take care of the health of our planet, economic development, health care, net neutrality — all of which are tremendously important issues — we have no value for coming generations because we are in crunch time,” Nelson said. “We must make responsible decisions.”

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Plattsburgh, NY - With democracy being threatened by big money from entities like corporate PACs and lobbyists, Democratic Congressional candidate Patrick Nelson (D-Stillwater) pushed the topic once again at The People’s Forum in Plattsburgh, yesterday afternoon.

“I think this comes back to the question before, which are Elise Stefanik’s political leanings, and Elise Stefanik’s political leanings are determined by how much money can be put in her campaign accounts and that includes the NRA,” replied Nelson after a question was posed on how you stop organizations like the NRA to stop contributing money to a political campaign. “To solve the issue as it goes back to all other ones, don’t vote for politicians who take corporate money.”

Patrick led the charge last month at the CAT 21 forum in Moreau by challenging the other Democratic candidates to not accept corporate PAC and lobbyist money - out of the 8 candidates at the forum, only 3 of them chose to take the pledge.

Campaign finance has been a hot-button topic, with the most recent news coming out of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ), both Senators stated they would no longer accept corporate PACs.

“You should ask everyone of these candidates up here whether or not they will take corporate PACS or lobbyist money throughout their career,” Nelson continued. “If they don’t give you an answer then I don’t think you should support them (in the primary).”

After Nelson concluded his speech, Democratic Congressional candidate Tanya Boone (D-Granville) became the 4th to make the commitment, not to accept corporate PACs.

During the interactive 2-hour event put on by Change Through Action, the crowd of over 200 had a chance to listen to responses to their questions, from each of the ten candidates, on topics such as; gun control, health care, the democratic process, and their strategies on defeating Congresswoman Stefanik (R-NY).

The Congresswoman was invited to the forum by the organizers, but declined due to another “event.” However, she did release a statement over Twitter the night before with abnormal questions posed to her challengers on stage.

“I think the Congresswoman is confused to what her job is. She thinks her job is to ask us questions,” Nelson retorted to Congresswoman Stefanik’s statement to a snickering audience. “Her job is to show up and answer your questions!”

His response drew cheers from the residents of New York’s District 21 who have not seen their elected official hold an actual town hall in quite some time.

“I am asking for your vote in the primary and for your vote in the straw poll because you know in your heart of hearts that you want to see me debate Elise Stefanik. And you know in your heart of hearts that she is terrified of that prospect. Don’t let her off the hook.”

During the cessation of the event, a straw poll was conducted from the folks in attendance with Patrick taking close to half of the vote by 41% (73 votes) with the next candidate, Emily Martz (D-Saranac Lake) at 12.92% (23 votes).


Political candidates may be watching the ups and downs of bitcoin a little more now, because it could be the new frontier for increasing campaign contributions.

Missouri Republican Austin Petersen's campaign for Senate received 24 bitcoin donations, valued at a total of $9,700, the campaign said in a statement released on Jan. 11 -- and one of them was the largest single bitcoin donation in federal election history.

That donation -- 0.284 of a bitcoin -- was instantly converted to dollars by a bitcoin processor when it was received on Dec. 20, 2017. Because of bitcoin's market value at that time, it was worth $4,500.

"I think it goes without saying we're going to see a lot more of this in terms of campaign contributions and campaign financing," Jeff Carson, the campaign manager for Petersen's Senate bid, told ABC News.

Accepting partial bitcoins as campaign contributions, he added, lines up with Petersen's political philosophy.

"Austin is personally a fan of competition in the marketplace, even when it comes to our currency," Carson said. "With the rise of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, it was a no brainer for us to use those."

This isn't the first campaign in which people have supported candidates using cryptocurrency.

Rand Paul accepted bitcoin campaign contributions during his 2016 presidential bid, according to The New York Times, and before that, Jared Polis accepted bitcoin donations in his 2014 congressional campaign.

The same year, the Federal Election Commission announced that it would allow individuals to contribute to political campaigns using the virtual currency.

Now four years later, bitcoin as campaign currency has become less of a novelty. Campaigns on both sides of the aisle have accepted bitcoins.

Experts say the increase in bitcoin campaign contributions is a natural progression that follows the popularity of cryptocurrencies.

Shone Anstey, the executive chairman of Blockchain Intelligence Group, a risk analytics company for bitcoin encrypted currencies, told ABC News it was “inevitable.”

“It certainly has taken off aggressively w the dramatic rise in price [of bitcoin],” Antsey said. “It’s also taken off aggressively with millennials, who are glued to their phones and have taken to crypto currencies very naturally.”

There is another crop of campaign donors who are likely to use bitcoin: the newly rich.

"There are a number of people who have become very crypto-rich," he said, calling them "a whole new class of investors who have made a lot of money."

Campaigns on both sides of the aisle have now accepted bitcoins.

Kelli Ward, a Republican running for Senate in Arizona, has a page on her campaign website dedicated to accepting bitcoin donations.

Patrick Nelson, a Democrat running in the 21st congressional race in New York, has been doing the same, announcing the move on Twitter in August and writing that "we're a 21st Century campaign as such we embrace new technologies like #bitcoin."

Nelson's press secretary Paul Paterakis told ABC News that their campaign accepted bitcoin donations from August until October of last year until BitPay, the company they were using to process the bitcoin donations, suspended operations pending a New York state licensing issue. BitPay did not respond to ABC News’ requests for clarifications about the suspension in New York, but did confirm that they have supported bitcoin contribution operations for several political campaigns.

When Nelson's campaign was still able to accept bitcoin, Paterakis told ABC News that they raised about $400 worth of bitcoin from "less than half a dozen" individual donors. The campaign "definitely" plans to accept bitcoin donations as soon as BitPay is back online in New York, he added.

"It's just another form of payment," Paterakis said.

In 2014, the FEC determined it was acceptable for campaigns to accept bitcoin in case involving the Make Your Laws PAC, a non-affiliated political action committee raising campaign funds, as long as the donations were limited to the equivalent of $100 per individual and steps were taken to disclose the contact information of the donors -- in that case through a unique website where they would have to provide their names, physical address and employer and confirm that they were the true owners of the bitcoin.

"It's a common misconception that bitcoin is truly anonymous," Paterakis told ABC News. "It's not. It can be traced on the blockchain (the open ledger) quite easily."

But, the process of accounting for bitcoin contributions gets a little more complicated. The FEC notes that bitcoins should be reported as in-kind contributions, and then campaigns are instructed to report bitcoin contributions on their itemized receipts.

As is true with all types of contributions, campaigns are not required to itemize individual contributions less than $200 total. If an individual donates bitcoin worth $100 and the campaign simply lists it as an in-kind contribution of $100 without denoting the bitcoin, the FEC will not be able to track it specifically as a bitcoin contribution.

Currently, the FEC only has data from four campaigns and PACs that reported receiving bitcoin donations, though the data is expected to be updated to include data from the last several months at the next reporting deadline.

The most bitcoin donations the FEC has on record so far in this election cycle were made to Democrat Brian Forde's current congressional campaign in California's 45th district -- his campaign received bitcoin worth more than $66,000 in August and September of 2017.

Because of the success of his bitcoin campaign, Forde told ABC News, "a number of members of Congress have asked for my advice about how they can accept bitcoin as well."

"I'm running for Congress to restore science and tech to its rightful place in Washington and that starts with using the very technology I will be asked to legislate," he said.

"When Howard Dean first accepted credit cards online to fundraise for his campaign, people were skeptical. Four years later, Barack Obama broke fundraising records using the same technology," Forde said. "Bitcoin, and its underlying technology, blockchain, is often described as 'the next internet.' We're proud to join hundreds of thousands of people and companies around the world that accept bitcoin."


Stillwater, NY - There has been an important ingredient missing from the recipe of Patrick Nelson's congressional run for NY-21. The team feels the hiring and combination of Thearse McCalmon as campaign director and Lisa Scerbo as volunteer coordinator will solve the issue of both fundraising and signature capture at a grander scale. They will both use their experience to continue to guide the campaign in the right direction as it goes into the final stretch.

"I'm extremely excited to join the Nelson campaign. The issues New York 21 faces are American problems. After studying up on the other candidates as well as Congresswoman Stefanik, I feel Patrick is the only candidate who is able to move the district in the right direction," McCalmon stated. "I've been placed into this position so Patrick can move much more freely around the district and engage with the folks who want a voice which will truly represent them in the North Country."

McCalmon, a resident of Schenectady and history teacher, previously worked as the Director of Programs for the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, and has worked with Senator Neil Breslin (D-NY) as a session assistant, and as a volunteer on the campaign of Albany Councilwoman Dorcey Applyrs (D-NY).

Lisa Scerbo who lives in Stillwater has worked on many campaigns, including Kirsten Gillibrand’s 2006 run for Congress, where she worked as a team leader for paid canvassers. She most recently worked on Mike Derrick’s campaign and was a dedicated volunteer for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in 2016.

“Patrick is young, energetic, and has the right platform to defeat Congresswoman Stefanik in November,” Scerbo added. “I’ll work with volunteers from across the district to make sure he is well represented.”

The Democratic primary will be held on June 26, 2018.


President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union speech Tuesday evening, wrapping up his first year in office, addressing current and future legislative plans and receiving bipartisan support on few issues.

In a speech lasting an hour and 20 minutes, one of the longer State of the Union addresses in history, he tackled everything from the NFL to North Korea, listing the actions and accomplishments of his first year of the presidency.

From historic tax cuts to the current economic and pension boom, Trump received long applause for the implementation of what he called “the new American model.”

“The era of economic surrender is totally over,” Trump said. “From now we expect trading relationships to be fair, and very importantly, reciprocal. We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones, and they’ll be good ones, but they’ll be fair.”

He declared that he ended the war on “beautiful, clean coal” and that Detroit, the “Motor City,” is now revving business up again with factories moving from Mexico to Michigan.

North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro attended with Sarah Pratt, of South Glens Falls, the daughter of Timothy Pratt, a state Trooper, who in 2016, died in the line of duty. She said Pratt was “an ordinary American doing extraordinary things.”

“I thought it was a very positive, optimistic speech, focused on economic growth, economic opportunity and the American dream,” Stefanik said following the speech. “I think the president sought to unify both parties on issues that should be bi-partisan.”

She said issues like improving infrastructure, addressing the opioid crisis, rebuilding military and making sure the federal Department of Veterans Affairs is accountable to the veterans it represents and serves should be supported across the aisle.

Partisan, bipartisan support

While infrastructure and general platitudes about the military received bipartisan ovations, the details of the military and opioid plans were mostly supported by Republican applause and some measures even garnered boos and groans from the left side of the aisle.

Trump said one of his top priorities this year would be lowering the price of prescription drugs. Gesturing toward the Democratic side of the room, he conducted them to rise in applause of his proposed legislation, and showing visible displeasure when some didn’t. He did the same when he proposed Congress designate $1.5 trillion to update infrastructure nationwide. When a request for paid family leave in the U.S. received a bipartisan standing ovation, he raised his hands to his head, showing his surprise for the Democratic support.

More of his initiatives that received bipartisan support were investment in vocational schools, and the elimination of VA employees deemed harmful to their facilities.

Speaking at length on immigration reform, Trump detailed four pillars to focus on: Creating a path to citizenship for the 1.8 million recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, fully securing the border with technology and a wall, ending the visa lottery and ending chain migration.

“I support the president’s focus on securing our southern border,” Stefanik said. “I believe that it needs to be increasing technology, increasing border personnel, as well as, when applicable, physical barriers.”

She said she wants reform to create a better agriculture worker program, specifically for dairy farmers. She has introduced legislation she hopes will be included in the final immigration deal to move the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers program from the Department of Labor to the Department of Agriculture, which she said has more people familiar with what it takes to run a farm.

Stefanik also said she would like to raise the cap on J-1 visas, which many seasonal businesses rely on.

Though he described this as a “down the middle compromise, one where nobody gets everything they want,” there were boos and generally unhappy-looking Democrats as Trump talked about ending the practice of “catch and release,” ending chain migration and accepting immigrants based on skill, merit and safety.

“Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families,” Trump said. “For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They’ve allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans.”

Trump presented a grim view of immigrants, saying illegal members of the MS13 gang have caused the loss of many innocent lives, and saying, “Americans are dreamers, too.”

Identifying countries like China and Russia as rivals, Trump said that weakness equals conflict and that “unmatched power is the surest means of our true and great defense.” He proposed modernizing and rebuilding the nation’s nuclear arsenal to be so strong it will deter action from other countries.

Democratic response

“During the State of the Union, the president discussed the opioid crisis and called it a scourge. Sadly, members of his own party, including Elise Stefanik, take large political donations from the very companies who have created this problem,”Democratic candidate Ron Kim wrote in an email. “Since 2014, Stefanik has received $22,000 from ‘Big Opioid.'”

“What is clear from his first year in office is that this president needs a congress that will hold him to his promises and hold him accountable for his misdeeds,”Democratic candidate Katie Wilson wrote in an email. “Elise Stefanik has failed in this regard. Whether it’s voting to take healthcare from thousands of residents in the district, or more recently, voting in favor of a shamelessly partisan effort to undermine the integrity of FBI, Elise Stefanik has shown time and again that she votes the way Paul Ryan and Donald Trump allow her to, and not on behalf of the residents of the North Country.”

“Tonight, the president was at his best in presenting to the American people an alternate view of reality that is not supported by evidence,” Democratic candidate Patrick Nelson wrote in an email. “Look no further than the fact that there was zero mention of a current crisis and fundamental challenge of our time in climate change. In fact, the president trumpeted policies which threaten our way of life and the legacy of the human race. It seems to be a recurring theme of this president’s agenda to propel the American people closer to danger.”

“Instead of focusing on helping working families, President Trump touted the tax bill that hurts northern New Yorkers and rewards company shareholders,”Democratic candidate Tanya Boone wrote in an email. “While it was encouraging to hear a refocus on infrastructure investment, so far, we’ve only seen lip service from the president on this, no funding or action.”

“Last night we heard from an unpredictable president who says one thing and does another, much like our current congresswoman who claims to care about her constituents while she receives huge sums from the hedge fund and corporate donors who she truly serves,” Tedra Cobb wrote in an email. “President Trump paid lip service to bipartisanship and advocated for wrong-headed policies like punitive approaches to the opioid crisis and immigration reform, while ignoring the challenges of climate change and making healthcare accessible to all.”

“Among all the policy talk and rhetoric, the priority I would have really liked to have seen is the one that’s about valuing all people equally and making sure everyone has the chance to succeed. That is truly what should be at the heart of our region and our nation,” Democratic candidate Emily Martz wrote in an email. “Our region is losing population and we depend upon immigrant labor for farming, so for the North Country, indeed for the entire nation, anti-immigration policies are damaging. Rather than inflammatory rhetoric, we need to focus on creating a common sense, safe, and secure immigration system that allows immigration based both on family and employment.”


Stillwater, NY - Imagine for a moment that after March 5, 2018 you could lose your job. Imagine that after March 5, you could lose your driver’s license. Imagine that after March 5, men and women dressed in black armor and carrying guns could come and force you from your home, then send you to a country you have never known.

Of course they know exactly where you live because you registered with the government years ago, in good faith. Now that act of good faith may be the very decision that causes the end of everything you have worked for. What does that feel like? How would that affect your daily life knowing that in less than two months everything you hold dear might be taken from you at the point of a gun? What would the stress and fear be doing to you? How hard would it be to pay attention in class, or perform at your job? How would it feel to turn on the television and hear political leaders and pundits describe your situation as “not an urgent issue?”

This is what 800,000 young people across our country are feeling today as the federal government votes to extend the terror, stress, and uncertainty they are dealing with by another 17 agonizing days with no guarantee that they will come to the only just, moral, and rational solution decision regarding their situation: that the Dreamers can stay.

In public policy there are very few situations in which there is an absolute right and an absolute wrong. This is one of the few exceptions. Opinions on immigration reform and border security vary and there are compelling arguments on all sides. When it comes to the dreamers however, who are Americans in every way that matter except on paper, there is a clear choice. We as citizens through our elected officials have the power to fix the “on paper” issue and we must do so.

Now I’m no fan of brinkmanship, manufactured crises, and dysfunction in government. But I cannot stand by and accept a Republican led government using children's healthcare, pay for our armed service members, and the threat of deporting 800,000 young Americans as show pieces in a cynical act of political theater. All of this just to stir up energy in an irrational, cruel, and racist base of the Republican party before the 2018 midterms.

The Dream Act was first introduced in 2001. It has been debated for the last 17 years. What is going to change in the next 17 days?

This is why, if I were a duly elected member of the 115th Congress of these United States representing the people of New York’s 21st District, my vote would be no on the continuing resolution.

It’s time to stop the dysfunction, immaturity, and procrastination in Washington. It’s time to pass the Dream Act, fund CHIP for a full 10 years, provide for disaster relief, provide treatment for addicts, and give our armed services certainty in their funding by passing a damn budget instead of continuing resolutions that keep our government running just weeks away from another potential shutdown. The Republican party had the ability to pass a budget with 51 votes under reconciliation, but instead they used that measure to give a $1.5 Trillion kickback to their campaign donors out of the public treasury. What good will reopening the government for 17 days do if that government doesn’t work?

Now it appears the government will be opening. It’s time for Congresswoman Stefanik, Speaker Ryan, Leader McConnell and the rest of the Republicans in Washington to stop pandering to a small, but loud racist minority in their party and get back to the work of governing. They have 17 days to pass a clean bill that provides certainty for Dreamers, funds CHIP, and is not another continuing resolution. They must work to pass a bill in the House this time that can get the support of all 51 Republican Senators and at least 9 Independents and Democrats. That is the challenge of governing. The Republican Party now has a second chance to prove to the American people that they are up to that challenge.   

-Patrick Nelson


Stillwater, NY - Democratic congressional candidate for NY-21, Patrick Nelson, will be holding an Ask Me Anything on Reddit. The subreddit Political Revolution will host the 28-year-old Stillwater native, by moderating the 2-hour event.

Political Revolution is a subreddit which represents a movement promoting activism, raising support for progressive candidates, and spreading awareness for the issues focused on the progressive cause. The site boasts over 67,000 subscribers and has featured past AMA guests such as congressional candidates Randy Bryce (WI-1) and Mal Hyman (SC-7).

Reddit's AMAs are a popular way of interacting with celebrities, athletes, musicians, and politicians by asking questions which other Redditors can "upvote" to help bring it to the attention of the participant.

"It's an honor to be asked to hold an Ask Me Anything on the Political Revolution subreddit," stated Nelson. "I look forward to the questions and thoughts of Redditors both in NY-21 and around the world."

The event will take place on January 23, 2018 from 2 PM to 4 PM Eastern time at


WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Saturday, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, accused Senate Democrats of holding government funding hostage after the federal government shutdown at midnight Friday.

“I am disappointed in Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for not supporting the bill (to fund the government),” she said in a phone interview, adding that the senators should not be playing political games with people’s lives. “This is inexcusable ... I am against political brinksmanship. We need to come to an agreement.”

For the first time since 2013, the federal government shut down on Saturday after a bill to temporarily keep it funded did not pass the Senate because there was no provision for the 800,000 DREAMers facing deportation. A funding bill passed in the House and Stefanik voted in favor of that bill.

Nonetheless, NY-21 Democratic congressional candidate Don Boyajian on Saturday evening said Stefanik and her Republican colleagues “own the government shutdown.”

“Let’s be clear here — Congresswoman Stefanik and her Republican colleagues control the White House and both chambers of Congress,” he said. “This is just another example of how broken Washington is; the Republicans had one job to do and they couldn’t get it done.”

Boyajian added, “Bipartisan solutions have been crafted on immigration, yet the White House and Republican leaders have refused to listen. And they refused to authorize funding for CHIP three months ago in order to use children as a political pawn. It’s sickening.”

But Stefanik said she has “consistently voted to keep the government open,” adding that she is forgoing her pay during the shutdown.

Additionally on Saturday, Stefanik accused the Democratic pool of NY-21 congressional candidates — hoping to unseat the congresswoman in this year’s election — of remaining silent in the face of the shutdown.

In a release, blaming the candidates with a “SILENT” label before each name — Tanya Boone, Don Boyajian, Tedra Cobb, Sara Idleman, Ronald Kim, Emily Martz, David Mastrianni, Patrick Nelson and Katie Wilson — Stefanik said they must end their silence.

But Nelson, of Stillwater, said the congresswoman owes him an apology for misrepresenting him. And others also responded, saying they had not been silent.

According to Nelson, he retweeted statements from New York legislators, including Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

“I stand with our senator on this, #ImWithHer #CHIPfunding must be restored and #Dreamers must be protected. If the government shuts down, the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the @GOP,” Nelson wrote in a tweet on Friday.

“Our campaign has not been silent. We stand with 9 million children that need CHIP funding and 800,000 young people who are Americans in every way that matters except on paper,” Nelson said in a phone interview late Saturday. “The congresswoman only thinks I’ve been silent because I am one of her constituents and she doesn’t bother listening to us.”

In previous interviews, Stefanik has said that she is very responsive to constituents.

“The Republicans control the presidency and both houses. They refuse to work on bipartisan solutions to our nation’s problems,” said Democratic congressional candidate Tedra Cobb on Saturday. “Their lack of leadership created this crisis. Elise Stefanik is complicit and clearly isn’t taking responsibility for the situation we are now in.”

Stefanik said she will continue to work to “resolve the impasse and implore Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand to end this shutdown and reopen the government immediately.”

Stefanik said Congress remains open despite the shutdown, and her offices are open. She said she has co-sponsored legislation that, if passed, will ensure troops and national security personnel are paid.

In a statement on Saturday afternoon, the White House said the government will remain closed and there will be no more immigration talks until it is re-opened.

“This is all about the congresswoman and her party’s failed leadership causing a government shutdown,” said Nelson. “Instead of taking responsibility and working to reopen the government, the congresswoman blames Democratic candidates who have no power in Washington. The people of the North Country are smart enough to understand that if a party controls the House, Senate and presidency, then it is that party’s fault for any governmental shutdown.”



Stillwater, NY - In 1984, Apple warned of a "Big Brother" takeover through a commercial during the Super Bowl to promote their latest product. In June of 2013, Edward Snowden leaked top-secret documents which he took from the National Security Agency (NSA) showing how data was being collected on every American citizen. And with the recent renewal bill of FISA 702 (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act 702) passing the House earlier today, with the help of Congresswoman Stefanik, our privacy is still being threatened.

The vote, 256 to 164, allows the government to continue to collect communications from U.S. Citizens, and foreign entities, from U.S. based firms like Verizon and Google, without a warrant. This means your phone calls, emails, and online activity can be searched by the NSA without any due cause.

"This is a huge disregard of the 4th Amendment. This bill would allow the government to collect, retain, and search communications from citizens even if there is no cause to do so. It's a warrantless search. Every citizen in the United States has a right to privacy even in the digital era," stated Patrick Nelson, Democratic Congressional candidate for NY-21.

Another bill, USA Rights, which failed to pass the House earlier, co-sponsored by Congressman Amash (R-MI) and Congresswoman Lofgren (D-CA), would have been an amendment in which it would require the FBI to obtain a warrant before it searched the NSA’s surveillance database on American citizens. Congresswoman Stefanik voted against the amendment.

“Thank you to the 183 Republicans and Democrats who voted yes on the Amash-Lofgren USA Rights Amendment. We fell short today, but a large, growing coalition is standing up for the American people. We’ll never stop defending the 4th Amendment, our Constitution, and all our rights,” Congressman Amash tweeted.

The 4th Amendment protects your right to privacy - the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

“On January 4, 2017, Congresswoman Stefanik swore to uphold the Constitution. On January 11, 2018, she had a chance to do just that as part of a common sense, bipartisan coalition and she failed to do so,” said Nelson.

The bill must now pass the Senate.


Net neutrality has become a campaign issue in New York’s 21st Congressional District following the Federal Communications Commission’s Dec. 14 vote to repeal Obama-era regulations on the internet.

Democratic congressional candidate Patrick Nelson has written a one-page resolution to disapprove the repeal of net neutrality and has requested northern New York’s U.S. representative Elise Stefanik introduce it to Congress — a move some other candidates describe as a campaign stunt. Stefanik said she will decline Nelson’s request but will try to restore net neutrality through Congress instead of the FCC.

The FCC voted 3-2 to rescind its rules that prohibit changing the speed or blocking specific websites, applications and other forms of internet content, and also prohibit creating internet “fast lanes” to allow higher speeds for those who pay a higher price.

A Dec. 12 poll conducted by the University of Maryland revealed 83 percent of registered voters opposed the repeal. Previous polls, including one conducted by Morning Consult and Politico in November and one performed by Mozilla and Ipsos in the summer of 2017, revealed 52 percent of registered voters and 76 percent of Americans support net neutrality, respectively.

“The vast majority of our internet that we know, there has been some form of net neutrality regulation on traffic,” Nelson said. “The whole idea that the status quo ante is without these regulations is a misdirection being done by political PR professionals like Congresswoman Stefanik, trying to put a nice face on corporate America trying to extract more of our hard-earned money.”

Essentially, Nelson is asking the congresswoman to ask Congress to repeal the repeal through the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress a 60-day window to reject any regulation from executive agencies. Once the FCC’s ruling is officially reported to Congress, it kicks off the 60-day window, after which the regulation is implemented. Nelson said that window may close sometime in May.

Stefanik, a Republican who sits on the Rural Broadband Caucus, said she supported net neutrality leading up to the FCC’s vote but did not oppose the vote, believing the regulation of broadband is better handled by Congress making new laws than an agency making rules.

“Congresswoman Stefanik has been very clear and consistent that what needs to happen now is for the Committees of Jurisdiction to hold hearings with internet service providers and web companies to begin crafting legislation that codifies the principles of net neutrality into law,” Stefanik campaign spokesperson Lenny Alcivar wrote in an email. “This is an important issue for families across the North Country, and deserves to be debated in an open, transparent process. Mr. Nelson’s proposal would simply punt Congress’ legislative role and put the issue back in the federal rule making process.”

Nelson said he took House Joint Resolution 38, a resolution that Stefanik voted for that disapproved a rule blocking coal companies from dumping debris into streams, and changed the language to disapprove the net neutrality repeal.

His petition demanding Congress overturn the FCC’s decision had received 564 signatures by Dec. 28, including around 100 from the 21st District, according to Nelson. He has asked supporters to sign the petition and call Stefanik’s office to ask her to introduce the Congressional Review Act resolution.

Congressman Mike Doyle, a Democrat from Pennsylvania’s 14th District, has pledged to introduce his own CRA as soon as the FCC’s legislation is published.

Nelson’s resolution also would block the FCC from passing anything “substantially similar” to the net neutrality repeal in the future.

Stefanik faces at least eight Democratic opponents and one Republican in her bid for re-election this November.

“The effects of this legislation are yet to be known,” Republican candidate Russ Finley wrote in an email to the Enterprise, saying Democrats are jumping straight to fear-mongering. “Mr. Nelson actions are typical of his Bernie says anything done by the Republicans will kill millions platform. Frankly this petition is nothing more than a campaign stunt, and a way to data mine an email list for future solicitation. It is definitely not newsworthy!”

“I applaud the aim of my colleague’s bill but really would like to know what action the incumbent will take besides press releases and social media posts,”Democratic candidate Emily Martz wrote in an email. “The president and leader of her party is pushing this ruling. Does she have the guts to actively work on Capitol Hill for what is right for the people?”

“Without net neutrality, your internet service provider will slow streaming, block websites, and charge you more to reach certain websites,” Sam Parker, a representative of Democratic candidate Don Boyajian’s campaign, wrote in an email. “The ending of net neutrality is an attack on the consumers and small businesses in Upstate New York that depend on a free and open internet. The recent decision by the FCC is corrupt corporate politics at its worst. We need a change in leadership in the North Country.”

“While I support these efforts to overturn the repeal of net neutrality, calling on Elise Stefanik to take a stand against her party is a like asking a fish to climb a tree,” Democratic candidate Tedra Cobb wrote in an email. “We will protect internet freedom when we elect a Congresswoman who truly understands NY-21 and who will fight the special interests that harm her constituents. Equal access to the Internet, especially for our underserved rural communities, is vital for education, for our economy, and for our democracy.”


Elise Stefanik, northern New York’s U.S. representative, revealed Monday that she will vote “no” on the GOP’s final, consolidated tax bill making its way into both houses of Congress today.

The Republican congresswoman opposed the initial House bill because she said it would only exacerbate New York’s already high taxes, and opposes the collaborative bill for the same reason.

Stefanik’s main objection to the bill is a $10,000 cap on the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction, which allows taxpayers to deduct state and local property, income or sales taxes when calculating federal income taxes, preventing double taxation. (Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the consolidated tax bill would eliminate the deduction of income and sales taxes and cap the property tax deduction.)

Trump has called the deduction “unfair” because it means high-tax states shift some of their tax burden to states like Indiana and Iowa. An October report from Thomas DiNapoli, New York’s state comptroller, revealed the state pays on average 50 percent more in revenues to the federal government per capita than Indiana and Iowa. The same report showed that states benefiting most from SALT are more likely to be considered “new donors,” meaning the state pays more in federal taxes than it receives in a fiscal year.

In a letter Stefanik and six of her colleagues sent to U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin in June, it was written that rolling back the SALT deduction was estimated to reduce long-run gross domestic product by 0.4 percent and lead to a loss of more than 200,000 jobs.

The letter also stated that New York would be hit hardest by this elimination, as 3.2 million residents, primarily lower- and middle-income homeowners, claim the deduction.

“Due to Albany’s failed leadership and inability to rein in spending, New York is one of the highest taxed states in the country, and families here rely on this important deduction to make ends meet,” Stefanik wrote in a press release. “Failure to maintain SALT could lead to more families leaving our region.”

Despite Stefanik’s “no” vote, earlier versions of the bill passed the Republican-controlled House, 227 to 205 and the Republican-controlled Senate 51 to 49. Since then the two houses have collaborated to create a cohesive tax bill, blending elements of each house’s version.

Stefanik’s Communications Director Tom Flanagin wrote in an email that she supports reducing the corporate tax rate, doubling the personal exemption to provide tax relief for families, maintaining the medical expense deduction and the ability for teachers to deduct their out-of-pocket costs. These are all portions of the tax bill she would like to implement without eliminating SALT or environmental protections.

When asked if Stefanik has called other congresspeople to convince them to vote alongside her or in she plans to speak on the House floor to gain more support for her position in Congress, Flanagin replied, “She has joined her colleagues on several letters to leadership and negotiators throughout the process about her position on tax reform.”

Candidates running against Stefanik in New York’s 21st Congressional District next November were encouraged by her “no” vote but said that without further campaigning for fellow congresspeople to follow, it will doubtfully impact the overall vote.

“If Elise really opposes this tax bill, she should be out on the floor rounding up more ‘no’ votes and protecting hard working families,” Democrat Katie Wilson of Keene wrote in an email. “I’d like to see her stand up for what she truly believes in and be brave enough to admit that tax breaks for corporations are in line with her values. I think voters here in the North Country would rather someone be honest and proudly disagree with them than hide behind talking points and refuse to share a position until permission is granted from above.”

“This bill does nothing to benefit the hardworking men and women of the North Country, rather it will be a gift to Republican donors and the wealthy lowering the tax rate for corporations and the top 1 percent of earners,” Democrat Don Boyajian of Cambridge wrote in a Facebook message. “Representative Stefanik’s ‘no’ vote against this bill, knowing it will easily pass the House without her support, is a hollow gesture that does nothing real for our District.”

“Stefanik voted to close rural hospitals, and reverse prohibitions on industrial pollution so she does not get a blue ribbon for opposing the most hyper-partisan and destructive tax bill in modern history,” Democrat Tedra Cobb of Canton wrote in an email.

“While Ms. Stefanik should be given credit for announcing she will vote against this tax scam, her opposition was weak and ineffectual,” Democrat Ronald Kim of Queensbury wrote in an email. “Rather than merely standing by and watching Republicans fall all over themselves as they reward their wealthy donors with tax breaks, she should have taken to the House floor and educated her fellow members on how the tax scam will impact the residents of the North Country. That would have been real leadership.”

“I am glad to see that she’ll be voting against this irresponsible piece of legislation,” Democrat Patrick Nelson of Stillwater said. “I think there are many other reasons beside the SALT deduction to be against it … like the fact that it’s based on an economic fraud in trickle-down economics. If you support this bill and you think it’s going to grow the economy, you don’t understand how economics work.”

“1) Working families get minimal tax relief under the bill — and that relief is only temporary. Five percent of taxpayers will see their taxes increase next year, up to 53 percent in 2027,” Democrat Tanya Boone of Granville wrote in an email. “2) Over half the tax benefit of this bill will go to the wealthiest 5 percent of income earners, 3) there is no requirement that corporate tax savings will result in investment in new jobs and higher wages. In fact, many CEO’s have been very clear they have no intention to do so, 4) the heirs of the super wealthy get a huge tax break that increases the deficit with no benefit for the rest of us.”

“It’s is a regressive tax plan. The largest increases in income as a result of the tax cuts go to those making between $200,000 and $1 million, and in the North Country nearly 80 percent of tax filings in 2014 reported income less than $75,000,” Democrat Emily Martz of Saranac Lake wrote in an email. “If the incumbent were spending meaningful time in the region, she would realize that it is the overall structure of the bill that hurts her constituents most, not the single item she is pointing to.”

“Given that I am being asked to make a statement prior to the actual vote. Plus the climate of last minute deals, kick backs, and political head fakes for media exposure, I will not speak on conjecture and speculation. Therefore I will reserve any comments until after the actual vote occurs,” Republican Russell Finley of Madrid wrote in an email.


Stillwater, NY - With only one week away from Christmas, the Justice Democrats have officially endorsed Patrick Nelson, Democratic Congressional candidate for NY-21. He will stand alongside Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17), Congressman Raúl Grijalva (AZ-3) and 39 other progressive candidates nationwide who are looking to take back the house in 2018.

"It’s an honor to join a team of dedicated, present, and aspiring public servants committed to taking our Democratic Party back to its roots as the party of the people,” stated Patrick Nelson. “We understand that removing ourselves from the corrupting influence of corporate money is an essential step in that process and that the American people demand and deserve leadership by example.”

The Justice Democrats was co-founded by the co-host of The Young Turks, Cenk Uygur in January 2017. The Tennessee based organization is hoping to rebuild the Democratic Party and run corruption-free Democratic congressional campaigns that lead to a progressive and un-bought Congress in 2018.

“We’re excited to have Patrick join our Justice Democrat’s team and we are looking forward to supporting him through his campaign,” said Alexandra Rojas, Director of Campaigns for Justice Democrats. “We believe that Patrick’s grassroots, issues focused campaign demonstrates his knowledge of policy and commitment to serving the residents of New York’s 21st District.”

Patrick is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Congresswoman Stefanik in November 2018.


21st CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT -- The North Country congressional district represented by U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, is considered by political oddsmakers to be "safe" for Republicans, but Democrats there are taking heart from Doug Jones' unexpected Senate victory this week in solidly Republican Alabama.

Going into the 2018 congressional election, seven Democrats are already running against Stefanik, who was the youngest woman ever elected to Congress in 2014, and at age 33 is still the chamber's youngest member.

One of the Democratic candidates, Patrick Nelson of Stillwater in Saratoga County, said Friday that he's been encouraged by a number of recent Democratic victories around the country and locally, including some at the Town Board level in historically Republican 21st Congressional District towns.

"Of course I'm encouraged when Doug Jones wins in Alabama," said Nelson, a former Bernie Sanders campaigner who is pushing progressive causes like a higher miniumum wage and goverment-supervised health care. "I don't think there's any such thing as a safely Republican seat. The majority of voters in the district are not Republicans. It's been held by a Democrat in the past. It was carried by Barack Obama twice. It is a winnable district for Democrats."

Voter registration figures at the state Board of Elections show that of 438,117 voters registered in the district as of Nov. 1, 178,359 are Republicans, 128,562 are Democrats, and 93,920 are unaffliated. The rest belong to smaller political parties. Democrat Bill Owens held the seat from 2009 to 2015, as factional righting split the Republican vote in those elections.

The Democrats in the race include Nelson; Don Boyajian of Cambridge; Tedra Cobb of St. Lawrence County; Ronald Kim of Queensbury; Emily Martz of Saranac Lake; Katie Wilson of Keene; and Tanya Boone of Granville. If there's a primary to decide the Democratic candidate, as seems likely, it will be held on June 26.

Stefanik also faces two potential Republican primary challengers: Russell Finley of St. Lawrence County and Steven Schnibbe of Saranac Lake.

Since going to Congress, Stefanik, of Willsboro in Essex County, has been generally a reliable vote for Speaker Paul Ryan's priorities. But in recent months she has shown more independence, voting against the House version of the Republican tax cut plan which would reduce or eliminate the homeowner property tax deduction. On Thursday, she issued a statement critical of the Federal Communication Commission's decision to end net neutrality. She said Congress needs to legislate net neutrality rules, in contract to the Trump administration's position on the issue.

A Stefanik campaign spokesman said she has a strong record on local issues to run on, and he noted that she won the district by 30 percentage points in 2016.

"There will be a time for politics," spokesman Lenny Alcivar said. "On Election Day, Congresswoman Stefanik will win the hearts and minds of voters across the district because they will know her record of results, and because they trust her to continue to deliver the results for which she campaigned, for families and businesses and everyone who put a stake into the district."

Going into the election year, Stefanik has an enormous lead in fundraising. As of the July filings with the Federal Elections Commission, Stefanik had more than $1 million in her campaign accounts. The leading Democratic fundraiser, Boyajian, had raised about $208,000, which some large donations coming from members of the Capital Region legal community, where his father, also named Donald, is a prominent attorney.

Cobb, a former St. Lawrence County legislator who had raised the second most money of any Democrat, $129,000 through last July, said she is encouraged by the Democratic victory in the Virginia governor's race in November, as well as Jones' win last Tuesday over controversial Republican Roy Moore. Moore in the final weeks of the race was accused of sexually harassing underage girls. Despite the lurid nature of allegations against Moore, Cobb said Democrats have won on the issues.

"I think politicians think voters won't notice that they're voting against local priorities," Cobb said. "[Stefanik's] betting that we won't notice they're voting for the closing of local hospitals, cutting off of health care for local people, to reduce restrictions on corporate polluters, and then there's this horrendous tax bill. But they noticed in Virginia, they noticed in Alabama, and we notice in northern New York. The voters are paying attention."

Fulton County Republican Chairwoman Sue O'Neil is a strong supporter of Stefanik, but she acknowledged Democrats might have reason for hope after Jones' upset victory. She said she expects to work hard for Stefanik regardless of what her opponents may do, and for Stefanik herself to campaign hard for re-election.

"I never go with the feeling of safe with anything like this," O'Neil said. "Even if you're unopposed, you have to work really hard. She's going to work really hard and when she's back home. She makes it a point to get out to the counties."

Noting that Stefanik has sometimes broken with Republican leadership on national issues, O'Neil  said, "One of the issues we've had in conversations with her is that [legislation she will support] has to be good for the North Country. She does pay attention to what she hears from constituents."

Her opponents, however, fault Stefanik for holding few open town hall-style meetings with residents, and progressive organizations have demonstrated outside her district offices, including her Glens Falls office, calling for Stefanik to meet with the public more often.

The 21st Congressional District stretches from the Capital Region's northern suburbs to the Canadian border, including all or parts of Saratoga, Fulton, Washington, Warren, Hamilton, Herkimer, Essex, Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Lewis counties. Geographically, it is the largest district east of the Mississippi.


WHALLONSBURG | As attendees trickled into the Whallonsburg Grange for a town hall meeting, Patrick Nelson reminded them he could be wordy.

“Feel free to raise your hand and interrupt me,” Nelson said. “I tend to talk a lot.”

And he did.

For the next 90 minutes, the candidate seeking the Democratic nomination for New York’s 21st Congressional District perched on a stool and held court with voters, discussing a kaleidoscopic number of state, federal and local issues.

There were those dominating the national landscape, including the comprehensive tax overhaul that passed the GOP-led Senate on Friday, and health care, including Medicare for All, the single-payer legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). 

But the freewheeling event was also equal parts stump speech, history lecture and therapy session as Nelson discussed at a rapid clip the overuse of antibiotics in modern medicine, student debt, the root causes of opiate addiction, broadband installation, voter enrollment, clean water infrastructure funding and how to cure the ails of a Democratic Party still picking themselves up off the floor after last year’s shock election upset.

Nelson spoke in complete paragraphs, each accompanied by stats, citations, sources and asides.  

Just 10 people attended the session on Sunday afternoon, most of them local residents involved in progressive politics. 

Despite preaching to a friendly choir, Nelson continually referred to wealth inequality, and said the Republican-led Congress and White House are prioritizing the rich at the expense of the working class, whether it’s on health care or the pending net neutrality vote by the Federal Communications Commission on Dec. 14.

“These dastardly things they’re trying to do is under the cover of the holiday season,” Nelson said. “The American people are getting ripped off and it needs to stop.”


Nelson occasionally took shots at Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro), whom he criticized as distant and beholden to her campaign donors.

”How often do you see the Congresswoman in Willsboro?” he asked. “She’s not around, and she should be doing these as well.”

The room murmured.

But despite their antipathy to a GOP-led government, attendees also largely appeared to looking for guidance from a progressive leader who could help them navigate the post-election landscape. Questions from the group focused as much on Democratic Party politics as federal issues under a President Trump-led White House.

“We’re in a building year,” Nelson said. “That’s not something to fear.”

At times, he said, the process can appear chaotic. 

“It’s safe to say we need to be doing something different than what we were doing before.”

It’s been a whiplash year for Democrats, who have been in full-on assault mode against President Trump, and have fought tooth-and-nail against a number of his legislative initiatives, including proposed budget cuts, rollbacks of Environmental Protection Agency regulations and numerous failed attempts to repeal “Obamacare.” 

Nelson, 28, served as a delegate for Sanders during his 2016 presidential campaign, and still wears his admiration for the lawmaker on his sleeve.

Sanders, he said, remains one of the most popular politicians in the nation, and he continues to view him as playing a major role in the Democratic Party.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand also has a role to play, said Nelson, and is an important figure (Not so much current Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, he added.)

And he wouldn’t say no to an endorsement from Hillary Clinton.

But Nelson said he doesn’t want to rehash 2016, but rather ensures the party learns from its mistakes.

As his congressional campaign heads into 2018, he aims to emulate the grassroots strategy utilized by Sanders.

After all, he said, the landscapes of the sweeping congressional district and Vermont are not dissimilar. 

Grassroots efforts are paramount, he said, including work by the small knots of activists around the district who are organizing protests, rallies and similar forums and panel discussions. 

“They’re the voices that need to be heard in the Democratic Party,” Nelson said. “Show up and get involved. It’s not a majority rule — it’s rule by those who show up.”

The candidate called for the state’s primary system to be opened up in 2018 to allow unaffiliated voters to participate, a chief complaint of Berniecrats following last year’s primary.

Nelson has had experience working with two most recent Democratic nominees for the 21st Congressional District. 

After interning with Aaron Woolf in 2014, Nelson worked as a regional field director (and later, as a field director-at-large) for Mike Derrick, overseeing five offices and leading the district’s get-out-the-vote operation.

While working those campaigns, Nelson helped tailor phone scripts to undecided voters in different parts of the district, from Fort Drum in the west to the agricultural sector in the Champlain Valley.

“I think that gives me a unique perspective on the district as a whole,” he said.


To take back the House next year, Democrats must peel 24 seats from the GOP, six of which are in New York state, Nelson said.

While the seat was considered a toss-up in 2014 and the two major parties poured resources into the open race, Stefanik won both races by wide margins.

Nelson, who lives in the district border town of Stillwater, Saratoga County, is one of seven Democrats vying for the party’s nomination.

He demurred when asked by an audience member what differentiates him from his primary challengers, and said he prefers to run a campaign focusing on why voters should vote for someone as opposed to why they should not.

All hopefuls would be a better representative than Stefanik, he said.

But he admitted fundraising will be challenging ahead of the June primary, particularly considering his campaign does not accept donations from corporate political action committees. 

“Does that mean we're likely to raise less money?” he said. “It’s likely.”

Nelson ended the most recent fundraising quarter in fifth place, with $11,500 raised compared to Don Boyajian, a Washington County-based environmental lawyer, who generated $207,965.

The candidate sees a silver lining: Relying solely on small donors means he can be more vocal in addressing critical issues, he said, unlike Stefanik, who he called “a “PR rep for corporate America.”

“Her skill set is putting a nice face on corporate America coming in and fleecing the American people,” he said.

His strategy, he said, is to acknowledge what his opponent’s biggest strength is, and focus on chipping away at that. 

“The biggest strength Congresswoman Stefanik has is her ability to raise money,” he said. “The only way I can effectively talk about that is by not calling the kettle black.”

(In response to Nelson’s comments, a Stefanik campaign spokesman said, “Elise is proud of her bipartisan record of always putting the North Country first, a record which continues to deliver real results for taxpayers across our district.”)

Nelson hopes to eventually score a lucrative endorsement from Sanders, a measure he said would give his campaign momentum.

“One fundraising email from Sen. Sanders solves a lot of our financial challenges,” he said.

The candidate has held at least a dozen town hall-type meetings since declaring his campaign in January, and said he will continue to do so.

“I want to learn as much from you as you do from me,” he said. “It makes me a better candidate.”