Christopher Schmidt, a political activist from Washington County, on Monday announced he has established a committee to explore running for Congress in the 21st District in 2018 on the Libertarian Party line.
Schmidt said he is “hoping as soon as possible” to formally announce his candidacy once his committee finishes its analysis.
“The momentum is building right now. … As a Libertarian in the North Country, I know I can change the narrative,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday.
Schmidt, age 30, is a day laborer, writer and political activist who has been vocal on redrawing voting districts in Queensbury and Glens Falls, and in opposition to Glens Falls Police Department using tasers.
He is temporary chairman of the newly-formed Washington County Libertarian Party and was a co-founder of the Warren County Libertarian Party.
Schmidt, if he gets on the ballot, would challenge U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro.
Patrick Nelson of Stillwater, a political activist and Bernie Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, is seeking the Democratic nomination.
At least two Green Party members are seriously considering the congressional race, Matt Funiciello, the Green Party candidate in 2014 and 2016, has said.
Schmidt, in a press release, said “nearly a dozen individuals” are serving on his exploratory committee.
He would not identify committee members on Monday.
“There’s a range of people. I’m hoping that we can get our official list for the media in the future, but definitely people that have been involved in the Libertarian movement from here out to Jefferson County, even surrounding counties,” he said.
“At first it was going to be a write-in (campaign.) But then I got some support and now there’s some people that want me to be on the ballot and they’re willing to get the 3,500 signatures,” he said.
Because the Libertarian Party does not have ballot status in New York, the party’s House candidates must run as independents, which requires at least 3,500 valid signatures on nominating petitions, a daunting task in comparison with established political parties.
Republican and Democratic candidates need collect only 1,250 valid signatures from enrolled party members in the congressional district to get on the ballot.
Candidates on other established ballot lines in the 21st District require from three to 1,237 signatures – 5 percent of enrollment – based on current enrollment statistics.
The most recent local Libertarian congressional candidate was Eric Sundwall in the 2009 special election after Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Greenport, was appointed to the U.S. Senate.
Sundwall was disqualified from the ballot when the state Board of Election ruled that only 2,900 of 6,730 signatures on his nominating petitions were valid.
Sundwall, at the time, said the Board of Elections invalidated many signatures based on minor technicalities.