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Hamilton County man enters race for New York’s 21st Congressional District


James K. Waller, 28, of Lake Pleasant, Hamilton County, announced via email Wednesday that he is running as a Republican for New York’s 21st Congressional District.

Mr. Waller, a former Marine, found political experience working on the campaign of Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who ran for the Republican nomination in the 2012 presidential election.

Reached by phone Wednesday evening, Mr. Waller said he will not run a traditional campaign — concentrating on heavily populated areas and targeting expensive media markets — but instead will look toward the oft-neglected parts of the district, where his actions will have more impact.

“Showing people you care is profound,” he said.

At the same time, however, Mr. Waller said he is not afraid to take on apparent Republican front-runner Elise M. Stefanik, who is wrapping up a round of GOP county committee candidate endorsement meetings this week.

“I genuinely believe I’m the best candidate out there,” Mr. Waller said. “I know I can do a better job than her. You have the whole Republican establishment working for you but I’m ready for that fight.”

Mr. Waller said he was inspired to join the Marine Corps after visiting his father’s mission in Guatemala.

He said he saw the military as a way to make a difference and left behind his political science studies at Northeastern University to enlist.

He said he helped manage what he described as the busiest one-runway airfield in the world in Kandahar during a deployment to Afghanistan, with 900 aircraft movements a day, and was honorably discharged in February 2012.

He makes his home in Lake Pleasant, though he continues to work on political campaigns throughout the country. This week he is in Texas.

Mr. Waller said that he will begin campaigning March 4, the first day that candidates can begin to circulate petitions, and that he eschews the notion that he needs to spend millions of dollars of “some other people’s money” to run a successful campaign.

Instead, he said, he will try to strike a chord with voters who ascribe to the notion of being rugged individualists and those who are impressed by his efforts to reach out to long-overlooked constituents.

“My county lost 10 percent of its population in the last decade,” Mr. Waller said. “It breaks my heart, but it inspired me to keep going. I feel I can make a difference ... If you genuinely believe you can help, that’s all the capital you need.”

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