A Democratic congressional candidate in New York state has criticized his Republican opponent for not being a native of the district, despite having moved from another state to launch his own campaign.
Mike Derrick, who has made his "native" roots a cornerstone of his campaign to represent New York’s 21st district, moved from Colorado to challenge incumbent Rep. Elise Stefanik (R). Derrick changed his voter registration from Colorado to New York less than a year ago.
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Derrick and his wife, Katherine, also own at least six properties in Colorado. The market values of the properties total more than $1.3 million.
Derrick, a retired Army colonel who spent some of his early years living in Peru, N.Y., has seized on Stefanik’s roots in Albany as evidence that she has weak ties to the district that she represents in Congress.
"Her family has a summer home in Willsboro, New York. She grew up in Albany, New York. Her working life, ten years, has been entirely in Washington. To say that she is of and from the North Country is false," Derrick said in a recent interview with the local North County Public Radio.
The 54-year-old Democrat also recently described himself as "deeply connected to the region," according to an article in the New York-based Times Union. His Facebook page proclaims him as a "Peru native."
Derrick’s family moved to Peru in 1974 from Albany when his father took a job at SUNY Plattsburgh. While Derrick attended junior high and high school there, he spent years away from New York state serving in the military and only recently moved back to Peru from Colorado Springs to mount his congressional bid.
Derrick has been a registered Democrat for only about a year.
William Michael Derrick was registered to vote unaffiliated in El Paso County, Colo., in September 2006 and changed his voter registration to Republican in May 2012, according to the El Paso County Clerk & Recorder’s Office. He only updated his registration to Democrat in March 2015. One month later, he cancelled his registration in El Paso County. He voted in no elections in Colorado last year, meaning he never voted as a Democrat in the state.
Derrick registered to vote in Clinton County, N.Y., in April of last year, identifying himself as a Democrat, according to the Clinton County Board of Elections. He voted in the 2015 general election there.
Despite now listing his home address as Peru, N.Y., Derrick and his wife, who ran a real estate company in Colorado Springs, still own at least six different properties in Colorado, according to records maintained by the El Paso County and Summit County Assessors. The properties, a collection of town houses and single family residences, range in market value from $97,000 to $393,000
Derrick is now listed as an owner of his family’s home in Peru, and that property is now listed as the mailing address for all of the properties in Colorado.
Derrick has struggled to fundraise against Stefanik. The freshman Republican congresswoman has raised nearly $1.3 million for her campaign, while Derrick has accumulated just over $200,000, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Nearly $4,000 of Derrick’s campaign dollars have come from individuals living in Colorado Springs and Breckenridge, Colorado. Derrick has received only two contributions from his native town of Peru, one of them—the maximum $5,400 for the primary and general elections—from his wife.
Despite fundraising shortfalls, Derrick believes he can rely on grassroots support to boost his campaign against Stefanik.
"I am planning to make up the difference in spending with a stronger grassroots campaign, as I am more deeply connected to the region," Derrick said, according to the Times Union. "I am closing the gap and this race will be very competitive."
Derrick’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.