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Democrat Matt Zeller Running for Massa's Old Seat in Congress

6:18 PM, Apr 19, 2010   |    comments
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by Jill Terreri
Democrat and Chronicle

Democrat Matt Zeller said Monday that he will be focused on job creation if he is elected to Congress.

Zeller, a former intelligence officer at the Central Intelligence Agency and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, announced that he is running in the 29th District, left vacant in March by disgraced Democrat Eric Massa.

Zeller quit his job at the CIA earlier this month to run for Congress full time and is living with an aunt and uncle in Victor, he said in a brief interview Monday.  "It's the economy, it's growing jobs here ... that's what we're going to do," he said.

The 29th District has been without a representative since March 8, prompting letters-to-the-editor from frustrated constituents who say they don't have a voice on matters before Congress.

The vote on health care reform, held March 21, occurred without input from a representative of the district.

Republican Tom Reed of Corning is also seeking to replace Massa, and has called on Gov. David Paterson to schedule a special election, as Paterson did in two congressional districts last year.  In a special election, party chairs choose their party's candidates. Democratic chairs settled on Zeller, and Reed won the support of Republican chairs.  Zeller and Reed said they are planning on running in the general election in November, regardless of whether a special election is called.

Zeller is a Rochester native and graduated from Allendale Columbia School, Hamilton College and Syracuse University.  He said he comes from a CQRepublican family with roots in the district.  He can trace his family's presence in Western New York through eight generations, he said.  He informed reporters of his decision via e-mail on Monday and is planning public announcements next week.

Reed has raised $481,879 for his campaign and Zeller said he has just begun raising money.  Reed has also emphasized jobs and announced a job creation task force earlier this month.

After Massa resigned, Paterson said he would call a special election, though that has not happened yet.  A Paterson spokeswoman on Monday said the governor had not made a decision.

Gannett ContentOne - Rochester, NY

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