GOP candidate in NY-21 plans to walk district

Lonny Koons. Provided photo

CARTHAGE — Local truck driver and Republican congressional candidate Lonny Koons will soon be making a trek across the district, from West Leyden in southern Lewis County to Schuylerville in Saratoga County.

He calls the project “Operation: Boots on The Ground,” and it means he’ll walk about 1,600 miles over four months, aiming to hit every town and nearly every population center in the massive 21st Congressional District. His trip will end in Schuylerville, incumbent Republican Congresswoman Elise M. Stefanik’s hometown, something he said is done half intentionally and half out of convenience.

Mr. Koons, a military veteran and truck driver who now lives in Carthage, has already been touring the district with weekend lemonade stands, setting up shop in village and city downtowns and handing out free drinks as he talks with local residents about a variety of topics.

On Sunday, Mr. Koons spoke about his planned tour of the district over the phone, on the road for his weekly truck driving route. He said he wanted to tour the district to get out the word about his candidacy, and to answer voters’ questions.

“I saw the other candidates have been visiting local towns, letting people know they’re running, but nobody is answering questions,” he said. “They’re not even giving a semblance of an answer.”

Mr. Koons is running for the Republican nomination in 2022, against Rep. Stefanik. He said the congresswoman is the only person in the race besides himself who has actually made their positions clear. The four publicly announced Democratic candidates, he said, have said nothing of substance besides expressing their dislike for Rep. Stefanik.

“The Democrats keep saying they’re running against Elise, but they’re not, they’re running against each other right now,” he said.

He’s invited each candidate, including Rep. Stefanik, to walk with him and speak when he visits their town.

On his tour of the district, Mr. Koons said he’s anticipating difficult, unexpected questions from voters and local leaders — and he’s excited for them.

“I like the questions I don’t necessarily have an answer to, things I haven’t prepared for,” he said. ‘I’m good on the fly.”

Mr. Koons makes his positions clear. On his website, BlueCollarPolitics.Net, he has dedicated pages for 32 issues, from abortion — he’s pro-choice to the point of fetal viability, and wants a better adoption system, a position he calls “pro-whole life” — to universal federal identification programs — he supports a single, unified ID card that combines licenses, Social Security numbers and other IDs, and enhances security at the same time.

Mr. Koons said his positions will be informed by what he hears from voters as he tours the district.

“My solutions, what I want and how I approach that, how I accomplish it, is going to be based on the information I get from the district,” he said. “Because I want to represent the district itself, not the party.”

Mr. Koons said that is the key difference between himself and Rep. Stefanik. While she is a Republican Party leader, Mr. Koons said she looks out for the party’s interests first.

“I look forward to the day when I can stand next to her on stage and answer questions truthfully, while she sits there stumbling and bumbling trying to get the Republican answer,” he said.

Mr. Koons’ tour of the district will start on Jan. 3, in West Leyden, Lewis County. He will walk between towns, doing an average of 21 miles per day, every weekday regardless of the weather. A full list of his schedule and the dates he expects to hit each town can be found at https://www.bluecollarpolitics.net/execution. As the dates approach, Mr. Koons’ campaign will publicize the time and location where he can be met.

Mr. Koons said he’s only taking weekends, holidays and his 25th wedding anniversary off as he completes the trip, and expects he will walk for 73 days total.

“My wife told me, if I skip our 25th anniversary she would probably make sure we didn’t have a 26th,” he joked. “Other than that, I’ll be walking between towns, speaking with anyone who wants to speak with me, hopefully setting up some town halls and putting out notices to the towns when we’ll be there.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

I write about north country politics, Jefferson County and the northern shoreline towns of Lyme, Cape Vincent, Clayton and Alexandria Bay

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