‘Moderate’ Matt Castelli Says He’s Serious About Crime and Inflation. He’s Endorsed by a Group That Calls Those Issues 'Kinda Funny.'

Matt Castelli (D., N.Y.)
October 28, 2022

Congressional hopeful Matt Castelli (D., N.Y) says he’s a moderate who’s serious about crime, illegal immigration, and inflation. One of his biggest backers is a progressive group that says concerns about those issues are "actually kinda funny."

Rensselaer County Women for Change mocked Republicans for caring about those issues in an Oct. 21 email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. "It’s actually kinda funny, like checking our 2022 bingo cards. Google your local Republican candidate and yup! There it is! Inflation, crime, and border security." Castelli prominently displays the group’s endorsement on his campaign website and relies heavily on their efforts to rally voters.

The group’s endorsement could cause trouble for Castelli, who is seeking to unseat Rep. Elise Stefanik. (R., N.Y.) in New York’s rural 21st Congressional District. Castelli, a former CIA officer who moved to the district from Washington, D.C., just one month prior to launching his campaign, has often been accused of hypocrisy. Castelli claims he supports the Second Amendment and will protect the rights of gun owners, but earlier in October, a Castelli campaign staffer told volunteers in a Zoom call that he is "for gun control" and bans on so-called assault rifles, the Free Beacon reported.

A spokesman for the Stefanik campaign said Castelli’s acceptance of the group’s endorsement is disqualifying.

"Our Far Left Downstate Democrat opponent is endorsed by a radical Far Left group that has advocated for gun bans, a disqualifying position in Upstate New York," Alex deGrasse, a senior adviser to Stefanik’s campaign, told the Free Beacon. "Now this same Far Left group is downplaying the inflation crisis, which is crushing Upstate New York families."

Rensselaer County Women for Change said the "actual issues" on the ballot in November are abortion, democracy, and protections for LGBTQ people. In the Oct. 21 email, the group mocks Republican policy priorities in explicit detail.

On crime, an issue that more than three-quarters of American voters say is a major problem, the group said: "Crime—oh ffs [for fuck’s sake] stop it. The very minute Republicans suggest a plan to get guns, especially assault weapons, off the streets, I will be very interested in hearing their take on how to reduce crime."

The group also claims that the only people who care about illegal immigration are "border hysteria peeps" that don’t like black and brown people. But recent polls show that more than half of all Americans, including 40 percent of Democrats, believe the United States is facing an invasion at the southern border.

Inflation, the email said, is a temporary phenomenon caused by a "mismanaged pandemic," Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and "corporate greed." Some 82 percent of Americans view inflation as an extremely or very important issue, an October poll found, compared to 56 percent who viewed abortion as a top issue. Concerns over the cost of living took center stage over threats to democracy among a majority of Americans, the poll also found.

Rensselaer County Women for Change and its two co-chairs, Sally Lauletta and Ginny O’Brien, did not return requests for comment.

A Republican strategist told the Free Beacon that Castelli is "dependent on very liberal groups" like Rensselaer County Women for Change because he "carpetbagged into the district" and "is not well-known or from here."

DeGrasse called on Castelli to address Rensselaer County Women for Change’s statement.

"Voters deserve to know if our Downstate Democrat opponent will denounce support from this group or if he will shamefully continue to accept the endorsement from this radical group," deGrasse said.

Castelli and his campaign did not return requests for comment.