A new candidate has entered the race for the Republican nomination in the 21st Congressional District.
Jamie Waller, a 28-year-old resident of Lake Pleasant, in Hamilton County, said he wants to bring optimism to the region.
“My heart is in the Adirondacks,” said Waller, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps until Feb. 2013.
“As I got out of the Marine Corps and I came home, I was shocked by what I saw. It was desperation, one negative comment after another,” he said. “I can no longer be a part of this complaining.”
Waller, who announced his candidacy via email on Wednesday, said he started exploring a run in December, and Republican leaders suggested he would not be able to raise sufficient campaign funds.
So he decided to bypass the party’s endorsement process and circulate nominating petitions independently.
“It’s going to be bringing the power of rugged individualism back to ourselves,” he said in a telephone interview.
Waller is the fourth declared candidate seeking the Republican nomination in the 12-county congressional district where U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, is not seeking reelection.
The other declared candidates are Joseph Gilbert, a retired U.S. Army major and tea party leader from St. Lawrence County; Mike Ring, a broadcast engineer and political activist from Jefferson County; and Elise Stefanik, a businesswoman and former White House policy adviser from Willsboro.
Republican chairmen from the 12 counties will meet at noon Feb. 5 in Elizabethtown to vote on a districtwide endorsement.
Ring has said he will drop out of the race if he does not receive the endorsement, and Gilbert said Monday he is reassessing his candidacy.
Waller said he is committed to challenging the endorsed candidate in a Republican primary.
“He’s certainly welcome to do it,” said Essex County Republican Chairman Ron Jackson, who also is regional vice chairman of the state Republican Committee.
Jackson said candidates in previous elections have successfully circulated nominating petitions on their own to get on the Republican primary ballot.
Waller said he owns undeveloped property in Hamilton County that used to be part of a ski area.
He said he works as a political consultant for campaigns in Texas.
He said he did advance work and was a communications liaison in 2012 for Rick Santorum’s Republican presidential campaign.
“I’m a Christian conservative who believes in the founding document which is the United States Constitution,” he said.
A Democratic candidate has not yet been announced.
Democratic chairmen from the 12 counties were holding a conference call on Wednesday to discuss a timeframe and process for interviewing candidates, said Washington County Democratic Chairwoman Sheila Comar.