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    Castelli agrees to 3 TV debates; Stefanik reviewing options | Politics

    The debate over debates is underway in the 21st Congressional District.

    The issue appears to be not whether to debate, but where to debate and with which moderators.

    Democratic candidate Matt Castelli on Tuesday announced that he has agreed to participate in three televised debates to be scheduled between mid-September and late October — one each on Mountain Lake PBS in collaboration with Watertown PBS, WPTZ-TV of Plattsburgh and WWNY-TV of Watertown.

    “I am grateful to the media outlets that are working hard to keep voters informed, and I call on Elise Stefanik to give voters the respect of responding immediately to their invitations,” Castelli, a former CIA counterterrorism official who lives in Glens Falls, said in a news release.

    The Stefanik campaign responded that the congresswoman looks forward to debates, and is reviewing an array of invitations and options.

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    “The Stefanik campaign is reviewing all debate requests in every media market, but make no mistake: If the biased local media thinks that Far Left Democrat Castelli is going to hand pick the debate moderators, debate terms, debate questions, and dates, they are sorely mistaken,” said Alex DeGrasse, a senior adviser to Stefanik, R-Schuylerville.

    Castelli, in a telephone interview later on Tuesday, said the three media outlets invited him to participate in debates. He did not pick them.

    He accused Stefanik of trying to avoid debating.

    “If she’s going to refuse these debates, it’s a disservice to voters,” he said.

    DeGrasse criticized Castelli for leaving out Albany, the media market that covers the largest portion of the district, from his proposed list of debates.

    Castelli said that no media outlets in the Albany market had invited him to participate in debates.

    Castelli said he is willing to consider additional debates beyond the three that he has proposed.

    “I will participate in any opportunity to provide the voters with my vision for NY-21, showing the stark contrast between my history of service to our country and Elise Stefanik’s history of selling out the people of Upstate New York to serve herself,” he said in the news release.

    DeGrasse reiterated Stefanik’s previous criticism of Castelli for not debating his Democratic primary opponent Matt Putorti, a lawyer from Whitehall.

    “Castelli hid from a primary debate so he could hide his far-left gun-banning, tax-hiking, (Gov. Kathy) Hochul-endorsed views … ,” DeGrasse said.

    Castelli dismissed the criticism.

    “It’s silly,” he said.

    Castelli has said that he contacted Mountain Lake PBS and the League of Women Voters about arranging primary debates, and neither was able to do so.

    Castelli received more than 80% of the vote to win the primary.

    During the primary and after, Castelli has refused to say whether he would support a ban on assault weapons.

    Maury Thompson covered local government and politics for The Post-Star for 21 years before he retired in 2017. He continues to follow regional politics as a freelance writer.

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