Democrats crowd 21st District race

Albany County Democrats continue to throw their hats in the 21st Congressional ring, while over in Schenectady County, the biggest rumored Democratic candidate remains silent while a Schenectady Republican mulls entering the race.

With the total number of Democrats in the running now up to five with Thursday's announcement of Gary Mittleman of Loudonville, a contentious primary is likely. However, across the aisle, Schenectady County Republican Legislator Jim Buhrmaster has indicated an interest in running for the 21st Congressional District seat. He is the first Republican to do so after J. Christopher Callaghan said he would not seek the office.

Also recently announcing bids are Lester Freeman, Albany's Equal Employment Opportunity coordinator, and Darius Shahinfar, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Mittleman, 55, the most recent Democrat to throw his hat in the ring, is the founder and former CEO of Plug Power, a Latham-based home electricity company.

This great country of ours faces serious challenges, said Mittleman on March 6. "Our economy, our health-care system, and our foreign policy have declined to a state that requires real action."

Mittleman went on to address tax policy, education, health-care insurance and energy policy.

"I have real knowledge about the energy industry " both conventional and alternative," he said. "And this provides the basis for developing an energy policy that works."

Mittleman received his bachelor's degree in mathematics and master's degree in mechanical and aerospace sciences from the University of Rochester. He also earned an MBA in finance from the University of Chicago.

He founded Plug Power 11 years ago and currently works to help launch local start-up companies.

He is a former trustee of the Eastern New York State Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, the Albany Institute of History and Art, and the Center for High Technology.

While Mittleman has never held public office, the candidate sees his background in the private sector as an advantage to his Congressional campaign.

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