VoteVets PAC targets NY21 race

PostStar.com   ·   Link to Article

A political action committee that in 2006 touted its "scathing television ad campaign" against then U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, has taken renewed interest in the region's congressional politics.

VoteVets, a "progressive" political action committee, on Tuesday announced its endorsement of Democratic congressional candidate Mike Derrick in the 21st Congressional District.

"We think that the Mike Derrick district is one of the best opportunities in the country to elect a veteran to Congress, and certainly a district where military service is respected," said Jon Soltz, the PAC's chairman, in a telephone interview after the PAC announced its endorsement in a press release. 

Derrick, a retired Army colonel from Peru, in Clinton County, is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, in 2016.

Matt Funiciello, the Green Party candidate in 2014, has said he intends to run again.

VoteVets advocates on foreign policy, energy security, and veterans' issues as well as opening military service to U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants, according to the group's web site.

Soltz said no one issue was a factor in the endorsement of Derrick.

"It's never exactly one issue that forces us to make an endorsement, rather it's viability and electability. And he's electable," Soltz said. "It's our sort of stamp on the race to say we're going to play a role here."

The PAC primarily supports Democrats, but occasionally supports Republicans, Soltz said.

In the 2014 election cycle, the PAC contributed to the re-election campaign of Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., who serves on the House Armed Services Committee.

"Walter Jones opposed the trade deal (Fast Track), and Mike Derrick, I feel, is going to be better on trade than the congresswoman now who supported the trade bill," Soltz said.

In 2006, the PAC independently aired television commercials critical of Sweeney, a Republican incumbent who lost re-election to Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand.

The commercial, which aired on Albany-area television stations, featured Tomas Young, a soldier who was paralyzed from the legs down when he was shot while riding in an unarmored Humvee in Iraq. Young appeared in the commercial in a wheel chair.

"We ran those commercials at the last ten days of the election with over a thousand point buy," Soltz said.

Young, who died in 2014, was featured in the 2007 documentary "Body of War." 

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