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Group seeks ‘economic populist’ for 21st Congressional District seat; advertising on Craigslist

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An ad-hoc coalition of Democrats, third-party and independent voters and activists is advertising for a “citizens candidate” for New York’s 21st Congressional District on the Internet classified advertising site Craigslist, hoping to attract a viable candidate who is, in the words of the group, an “economic populist.”

“We’re looking for somebody who will be interested in using the tools and resources of the government and public policy to help ordinary working class, middle class and disadvantaged Americans move up the economic ladder,” said Fred Balzac, one of the members of the coalition.

The group is composed of public-interest advocates, labor activists and college students as well as members of the Democratic, Working Families and Green parties and independent voters from across the district, Mr. Balzac said.

The advertisements seek a candidate “with the demonstrated ability and commitment to represent the 99 percent of Americans who can’t buy political influence, and not be beholden to Wall Street and the richest 1 percent,” according to a news release from the coalition.

According to the release, applicants are expected to be committed to:

n Ending economic inequality.

n Protecting and expanding Social Security.

n Ensuring that corporations and the rich pay a fair share of taxes.

n Getting the corruption of money out of politics.

Advertisements have been posted on the Albany, Glens Falls, Plattsburgh, Potsdam and Watertown Craigslist sites.

“I think it’s really about having a more open process to find candidates for Congress,” Mr. Balzac said.

The group lists Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Pope Francis as role models for the kind of economic populist candidate it seeks.

Mr. Balzac said that there is a fair number of progressives in the 21st District and that the popular wisdom that the voters of the area are seeking a moderate Democratic candidate may be ill-founded.

Mr. Balzac said the group also wants to see an end to what he characterized as the increasingly harmful role that money plays in politics.

Instead of supporting a candidate who has a lot of money or can raise of lot of money, “It’s the idea of ‘Why not an ordinary citizen?’” Mr. Balzac said.

The Watertown advertisement can be viewed at http://wdt.me/oft2xZ

According to the advertisement, candidates should live in the district or be willing to relocate and be at least 25 years old — the minimum age to hold office in the House of Representatives.

The coalition was asking that resumes be sent by Feb. 8.

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