| Times Herald-Record
VILLAGE OF MONTGOMERY – Colin Schmitt, a two-term state Republican Assemblyman from New Windsor, announced that he will challenge U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Cold Spring Democrat, next year for his seat in Congress.
Surrounded by about 100 supporters, Schmitt kicked off his campaign during a sunny, springtime event Tuesday outside Montgomery Village Hall, standing at a podium overlooking Clinton Street. The crowd included several of his family members, friends and local Republican elected officials.
Half of his supporters stood behind him, angled so that the property next door showed as the primary backdrop.
“Just over my shoulder is the Little Red School House, Montgomery Nursery School,” Schmitt told the crowd.
It’s the nursery school he attended as a child, where he made his first friends and where he first ventured into public speaking, he said, by volunteering to give his class daily weather reports.
People in the crowd laughed.
“You can either thank or blame the Little Red School House for me talking to you this morning,” Schmitt said.
Schmitt, 30, says it was just a few days ago – on Good Friday, April, that he’d made up his mind to challenge Maloney, 54, for his post.
He was with his family partaking in a long-held Easter tradition, gathering for some colomba, an Italian pie. He says he made the decision with his family.
Schmitt, who is a sergeant in the Army National Guard, currently represents District 99 in the New York state assembly. Before being elected to the assembly, he served as the chief of staff for former New Windsor Town Supervisor George Green.
Maloney has represented New York’s 18th congressional district since 2013. His district includes Newburgh, Beacon and Poughkeepsie, among other areas.
At his Tuesday press conference, Schmitt said he is committed to representing Hudson Valley interests in Congress. He spoke highly of local law enforcement and vowed to always support men and women in uniform, from local police to active military and veterans.
His address was split between light-hearted references to his local upbringing and heavy-handed jabs at the man who is now his political opponent.
Maloney’s team was ready
Just after Schmitt finished his announcement, Maloney’s campaign issued a statement to local media.
It made no mention of Schmitt, except for the opening line explaining that the statement was sent “in response to news of a challenger” in next year’s election.
“Right now, I am laser-focused on delivering results for the Hudson Valley and winning the war against COVID-19,” Maloney’s statement read.
The statement included details about the American Rescue Plan Act, which will send hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to his district’s municipalities and school districts that can be used for reopening schools, vaccines and boosting the economy.
Maloney, who was elected to his fifth term last year, also reported his “most successful off-year” for fundraising, bringing in $650,000 in the first quarter of this year. That sends him into the second quarter with $1.2 million cash on hand.
Schmitt’s event lasted about half an hour. Loud applause and cheers broke out at the end of his speech; Schmitt leaned over to kiss his wife, Nikki Pagano-Schmitt.
Meanwhile, Orange County Democrats geared up for a protest outside Schmitt’s district office in Washingtonville.
According to posts on OCNY Dems Facebook page, they were planning a noontime protest as a call for Schmitt to resign for providing a send-off on Jan. 6 to a group of local Republicans aboard charter buses bound for “Stop the Steal” demonstrations in Washington, D.C.
The Jan. 6. protests turned deadly after rioters stormed the Capitol during the process of certifying 2020 presidential election results.
Schmitt maintains he only spoke to the group – members of Orange County Right to Life – about state legislation and did not mention anything about the presidential election.
“The attacks on the Capitol on Jan. 6 are completely disgusting and unacceptable,” Schmitt told a Times Herald-Record reporter after his April 6 campaign announcement. “Anyone who illegally entered the Capitol that day should be prosecuted and be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Asked if state legislation was the only thing he talked to the group about, Schmitt responded: “That was what they invited me to speak about.”
“I think I said, ‘God bless them, too,’” he added.