Updated: Former diplomat becomes sixth Dem to run in NY-19

Jeffrey Beals, left

A high school history teacher from Woodstock and former diplomat is exploring a run for congress in New York’s 19th Congressional District, bringing the potential Democratic candidates up to half a dozen.

Jeffrey Beals, 40, a teacher of U.S. humanities at Woodstock Day School in Saugerties, filed his statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on Sunday. He’s lived in Woodstock the last year with his wife and two sons, ages seven and four.

According to his campaign website, Beals served in the State Department, where he helped mediate the drafting of Iraq’s constitution and open America’s first diplomatic talks with the insurgency. He served as an intelligence officer in the CIA and then worked on peace talks in the West Bank and Gaza Strip alongside Ambassador Chris Stevens, who he called his close friend. Stevens was later killed when in Benghazi, Libya.

Beals said he also served on the foreign policy team for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and worked with his brother, cinematographer Matthew Beals, on a film that comes out this fall that examines big business and childhood in America. He’s also an organizer with Swing Left, a campaign that aims to win the House for Democrats in 2018, according to this New Yorker piece.

In an interview, Beals said his family has had a farm in the Hudson Valley since he was a boy and that he supported Zephyr Teachout in her campaign for the 19th district last year. He cited more than a decade of government service among his his qualifications to hold office.

“I grew up as part of a generation that believed that freedom is something you fight for overseas. But I’ve come to believe it’s more important to fight for it here at home,” Beals said.

Beals joins a quickly ballooning group of Democrats who have said they’re exploring a run or are running against Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, ┬áin the 19th district that includes Ulster and Sullivan counties. The election isn’t until November 2018.

The crowded Democratic field so far includes 28-year-old Gareth Rhodes of Kerhonkson, 40-year-old Antonio Delgado of Rhinebeck, 26-year-old Steven Brisee of Walden and 47-year-old Brian Flynn of Hunter and 52-year-old Sue Sullivan of Plattekill. Flynn and Delgado have already raised significant funds for their runs, according to federal election records. Faso has filed to run for reelection 2018.

Faso, an attorney and former state assemblyman, won election in November 2016.

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