|Democratic nominee for
U.S. House of Representatives from New Yorks's 29th district
November 2, 2010
|Opponent(s)||Tom Reed (R)|
|Incumbent||Eric Massa (D)|
|Born||Rochester, New York|
|Alma mater||Hamilton College (B.A., 2004),
Maxwell School of Syracuse University (MPA, 2006
Maxwell School of Syracuse University (MA-IR, 2006)
|Awards|| Purple Heart
Army Commendation Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal
Armed Forces Reserve Medal with "M" device
Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Army Overseas Service Ribbon
Army Service Ribbon
NATO Non-Article 5 medal with "ISAF" device
Combat Action Badge
German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency Gold
|Website||Zeller for Congress
Watches Without Time
|Service/branch||United States Army|
Matthew C. "Matt" Zeller, a native of Rochester, New York, is an author and consultant on alternative energy issues, currently working in northern Virginia. He is a United States Army veteran of the Afghan War and he ran for Congress in 2010 as the Democratic nominee for New York's 29th congressional district.
Early life, education and career
Zeller grew up in Rochester, New York and attended the Allendale Columbia School in Pittsford. He is a 2004 Magna Cum Laude graduate of Hamilton College with a major in government. In 2005, he graduated first in his class from the Army's Military Intelligence Officer's basic course. He earned master's degrees in public administration and international relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 2006. He is also a graduate of the Army's Combat Advisor's course. He was deployed to Afghanistan in April, 2008 where he served at the Ghazni Forward Operating Base as the unit's Intelligence Officer, Operations Officer, Air Logistics Officer, and head of all human assistance missions.
Zeller decided to return to New York to run for office upon hearing news that Eric Massa was retiring. However, after his unsuccessful campaign, Zeller returned to Washington DC, citing a lack of job opportunities.
2010 U.S. Congressional campaign
Zeller ran in the 2010 special election to fill Eric Massa's seat in the 29th Congressional District of New York. He lost to Republican, Conservative and Independence Party nominee Tom Reed.
Zeller is a former Republican who supported the first Presidential campaign of John McCain in 2000. He describes himself as pro-choice and believes that abortions should be safe, legal, and rare. He has not indicated how he would have voted on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and has not taken a stand on the individual mandate, but he is against repealing the legislation. He speaks favorably of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and opposes privatization of Social Security, and he supports the Employee Free Choice Act. Environmentally, he opposes drilling in the Marcellus Formation. He also favored repealing don’t ask, don’t tell. He is supportive of the current operations in Afghanistan, and he supports the creation of a Palestinian State.
In 2012, Zeller was named an Adjunct Fellow of the American Security Project  and a Fellow of the Truman National Security Project. Throughout 2012 and 2013 he spoke about his experiences in Afghanistan and his run for Congress at colleges and universities around the nation.
Zeller was instrumental in rallying public support to pressure the US Embassy in Kabul to grant a US visa to his former interpreter in Kabul, Janis Shinwari, as part of the Afghan Allies Protection Act. Shinwari's visa request was granted in September 2013. Shortly thereafter Zeller started No One Left Behind, an organization that advocates for the continuation and expansion of the Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) program for Afghan and Iraqi interpreters, and provides financial, material, and career assistant to individuals and families who have moved to the United States under the SIV program.
In 2006, the United States House of Representatives asked Zeller and several of his Maxwell School colleagues to evaluate the United States' Pandemic Influenza Response Plan. Zeller and his colleagues subsequently authored "Are We Ready? A Practical Examination of the Strategic National Stockpile in Response to Public Health Crises". Congress enacted many of the report's recommendations in 2007.
In 2012, Zeller authored Watches Without Time, an account of his experiences training for and serving in Afghanistan as an embedded combat adviser to the Afghan National Security Forces. The book originated from a series of email messages he sent to his family and friends back home about his experiences in the military, and it focuses on aspects of military life which are often overlooked or not discussed, like his inadequate training.
- Kraushaar, Josh. "Dems tap candidate for Massa seat." Politico
- With his hat in the ring, Zeller showing the man under the brim. The Evening Tribune. (Hornell, NY). Retrieved 2010-05-09.
- Miller, Rick (2010-06-09). Visit home compelled Zeller to run. Olean Times Herald. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
- Poole, Andrew (March 7, 2012). Zeller not ruling out another run at Congressional seat. Hornell Evening Tribune. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- Terreri, Jill (2010-04-07). Democrats pick Rochester native Zeller to run for Massa's seat. Gannett. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
- Terreri, Jill (2010-04-27). 29th District candidate Zeller cites family roots in Southern Tier. Gannett. Retrieved 2010-05-03.
- "News - Zeller opposes privatizing Social Security". Olean Times Herald. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
- Recotta, Bob (2010-04-28). From soldier to politician: Democratic candidate Zeller talks to The Leader. The Leader (Corning, NY). Retrieved 2010-05-03.