Joe Gilbert, a tea party leader from St. Lawrence County, has entered the race for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, in 2014.
“It is the House of Representatives, and I don’t think the people are being represented any more,” Gilbert said Saturday in a telephone interview.
Gilbert, a retired Army major, is director of emergency services for St. Lawrence County.
He is the second candidate to announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination in the 21st Congressional District, which includes Warren, Washington and northern Saratoga counties.
Elise Stefanik, a business woman from Willsboro, announced her candidacy Tuesday.
Essex County Republican Chairman Ron Jackson said Tuesday that additional candidates might enter the race in the coming months.
Gilbert said the federal debt, “personal liberties,” and the economy will be major issues in his platform.
Stefanik, a former White House aide in the Bush administration and a debate advisor to 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, has said she expects to raise at least $2 million to fund her campaign.
Gilbert said he will run a grass roots campaign.
“The voters will see a clear difference in us,” he said.
Stefanik said she looks forward to discussing the issues in the race for the nomination during a visit to Glens Falls on Thursday, .
“I’m going to focus on my campaign and sharing my issues and putting forth my vision for how we can create jobs in the district,” she said in an interview on her way in to the Glens Falls Rotary Club meeting.
Asked what distinguishes her from Gilbert, she said, “I think the voters will see that in the coming months. So I look forward to talking about my record and my small business experience and also the ideas that I want to bring forth.”
Gilbert said his life experience will resonate with voters.
“I’ve had to struggle to make ends meet. ... I know what it’s like out there,” he said.
Gilbert, age 46, served 24 years in the Army, including deployments to Iraq in 2001 and 2005.
He received an associate’s degree in liberal arts from the University of Phoenix, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Maryland.
He lives in the town of Dekalb, near Gouverneur.
Gilbert is president of the Northern New York Tea Party.
“I’ve been involved in the tea party since it came on the national scene (in 2009),” he said.
Owens, the Democratic incumbent, said in a statement on Saturday, “I have worked with Joe Gilbert before and respect his record of service to our country. As we get closer to the election next November, I look forward to a spirited discussion of the issues that matter to our region.”
Owens was first elected in a special election in 2009, and was re-elected in 2010 and 2012.
He received just more than 50 percent of the vote in 2012 in a three-way race with Republican and Green Party opponents in the newly drawn 21st Congressional District, which includes all or parts of 12 counties, including Warren, Washington and northern Saratoga counties, stretching from Lake Champlain to Lake Ontario.
Owens spent just less than $1.9 million on his.
Owens had $306,431 in his campaign fund, as of his most recent quarterly Federal Election Commission report on June 30.