There are now three Republican candidates officially in the 2020 race for New York's 27th Congressional District.
- Rob Ortt says campaign will be about him, not rest of the field
- Candidate believes issues like agriculture, gun rights and immigration are key
- National Guard veteran believes military service gives candidates unique perspective
The latest, current state Senator Rob Ortt, won't speculate on how many more might join in the coming months.
"All I know is we're in and our focus right now is on Rob Ortt and introducing my campaign, my message," Ortt said.
He said his campaign isn't about any other candidate. Nor is it about the indicted incumbent, Republican Chris Collins, who has yet to announce whether he'll seek reelection.
"It's not (about) him being ineffective or not," Ortt said. "It's really just we think we can go and continue to be supportive of the issues that matter to this district."
The issues, he said, include protecting the Upstate agriculture industry, the second amendment and trade — all things he said he's already fought for at the state level. He also believes his National Guard deployment to the Arizona border gives him a unique perspective on immigration.
"I was there as part of Operation Jumpstart back in 2007," Ortt said. "I know what our border patrol's up against. I've seen the terrain down there in parts of the border that make it almost impossible to secure without some sort of a physical barrier or a physical security measure."
He said his military service will be a focus of the campaign. He also served in Afghanistan and has multiple decorations including the Bronze Star.
"I think it's helpful to have people who've actually worn the uniform who've been under pressure, who have been under fire and who have had to make hard decisions and I certainly have had to do that and I just think that gives me a unique perspective as a member of Congress," Ortt said.
While many people in the district are pushing recent Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia to run, Ortt believes the two of them have a similar background and values. While he said he has great respect for Bellavia's service, only one of them is currently in the race.
"Whether you vote for me or don't for me, my military service and my military record is something I'm proud of," he said. "I look at my political service as a continuation on my military service and that's something I'm not going to shy away from."
Ortt admitted, in a crowded field, fundraising will be important but wouldn't give a specific number as to how much he hopes to raise.
"We absolutely believe we'll be able to raise enough money to run a competitive race to get our message out to the people of this district and to do very well on Election Day," he said.
Like fellow Republican candidate Chris Jacobs, and Democrat Nate McMurray, Ortt lives just outside the district, but he said he's represented a large portion of it and intends to move if he wins.