PLATTSBURGH — City of Plattsburgh resident Tim Stampfler is tired of complaining to his television set when he sees news about the U.S. government.
So much that he has decided to run for Congress.
"Things just don't feel right," Stampfler said recently.
"I've had enough."
The 44-year-old self-proclaimed constitutional scholar has decided to run for the seat in the 11-county 23rd Congressional District in the 2012 election.
He said he will enter the Republican race for a chance to unseat incumbent Democrat Bill Owens from Plattsburgh.
Stampfler's platform will rest squarely on protecting civil liberties and personal freedoms.
"I am not saying I am always right, but I will focus on taking care of people's freedom. I will always be on the side of freedom and people making their own decisions."
Stampfler, a 13-year correction officer who now works at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, graduated from Peru High School in 1986 and from Clinton Community College in 1993.
He ran for a seat on the city's Common Council in Ward 1 in 2010 but lost to incumbent Tim Carpenter, a Democrat.
Although he knows winning a seat in Congress is a long shot, Stampfler says his mission is to get people thinking.
He says the government has eroded so many civil liberties in recent years, that it is scary. The ultimate example, he says, was passage of President Obama's health-care plan last year.
"They are telling you that you have to buy health insurance. The government shouldn't be telling people what they have to buy. That is unconstitutional."
He said he is targeting Owens, in particular, because he voted in favor of Obama's plan.
"He (Owens) said it could be allowed because of the interstate commerce laws, but that answer is not good enough for me," Stampfler said.
Republican Matt Doheny of Watertown, who lost to Owens in 2010 and failed to get the Republican nod to run in a special election in 2009, is also running in the 2012 congressional race. And at least four other people have indicated they may run.
To enter the Republican primary, Stampfler will have to get 1,250 signatures on a petition.
Virtually a one-man team with the help of some friends, Stampfler will put up a website after New Year's, hoping to gain some attention.
"We are losing our freedoms little by little, and Obamacare was the big bite that put me over the top," he said.
Since he was a young man, Stampfler has made studying the U.S. Constitution a daily project. He recently celebrated the 220th anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution on Dec. 15, 1791.
His favorite section is the 9th Amendment, which says, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
"Don't tell me what to do with my life," he interprets.
"The Bill of Rights (collective name of the first 10 amendments) was put in there to ensure that wouldn't happen."
Stampfler's intended candidacy drew little response from both Doheny and Owens.
"Matt continues to work every day to earn the endorsement of the Republican, Conservative and Independence Parties and the support of their members," Doheny spokesman Jude Seymour said.
Owens spokesman Sean Magers said the congressman "is currently focused with his work with local workforce development boards to connect unemployed New Yorkers with the 3,400 unfilled jobs in the region.
"He appreciates that so many constituents are involved in the political process, and he looks forward to the added exchange of ideas that will come from it."
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