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A crowded group of Democrats are vying to succeed Katko in New York’s most competitive seat

But before Democrats can attempt to reverse their recent trend of underperformance in congressional races in the Syracuse area, they will have to choose a candidate on Tuesday in a competitive four-way primary for the 22nd congressional district according to news reports. lines drawn earlier this year.

Conole is generally considered the frontrunner, enjoying dominant runs in fundraising and endorsements from top local Democrats. Still, the race is as open as any race in New York.

But each of the four candidates — Conole, DeWitt Councilwoman Sarah Klee Hood, former state welfare commissioner Sam Roberts and Syracuse councilman Chol Majok — could win in a low-vote contest. participation in August.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face one of two millionaires vying for the Republican nomination on Tuesday, both of whom have financial assets worth more than their four potential Democratic opponents combined. Both say their main concern is inflation.

The departure of moderate Katko makes the race one of the most crucial for parties in the country – even if it has received far less statewide or national attention than those also voted on Tuesday in places like Manhattan, Kingston and suburban Buffalo.

Conole, an Iraqi veteran who worked as a political adviser at the Pentagon, secured a decisive lead in backing top Democrats in Onondaga County, the district’s population center.

He edged his opponents by a comfortable margin. And with the additional support of a super PAC funded with cryptocurrency money, the total money spent on TV ads touting his campaign approached $500,000, according to tracking service AdImpact. That’s nearly 30 times more than all his Democratic opponents combined.

He is not declaring himself a favorite – “It will be up to the voters to decide in a few weeks,” he said.

But a debate hosted last week by the Syracuse Post-Standard certainly indicated that Klee Hood, at least, thinks Conole was the candidate she should attack.

An Air Force veteran who returned to central New York to raise her family, Klee Hood is the director of a tech incubator for small start-ups, as well as a city councilman. She is the only woman in the race in a year where Democrats have emphasized women’s reproductive rights following the overthrow of Roe vs. Wadeand she does not hesitate to point it out.

“As the only candidate here whose rights have been taken away, we need to expand the court,” she said when the topic came up in the debate.

Like Conole, she emphasized her military background: She led a team of 140 soldiers across four divisions and managed a $25 million budget. She said it prepared her to stand up for central New York, where she was born and raised, and to put their needs ahead of party ideals or extremists in Washington.

“It’s really about the people; just like public service, it’s about understanding people and their needs,” she said of her Air Force service. “It’s more or less just a translation of understanding the community and making tough decisions.”

Roberts is more experienced in winning races in the area than the other three candidates combined: he served five terms in the Onondaga County Legislative Assembly in the 1990s and was elected three times to the State Assembly. State ten years ago.

He left that Assembly post when former Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed him to lead the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance in 2015. The former United Autoworkers leader has been backed by labor groups leading companies such as CSEA and 1199SEIU.

Majok, meanwhile, was born in South Sudan but fled violence aged 6 and resettled in America as a “Lost Boy” refugee. He went on to earn a doctorate in political science, work for former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, and win election to Syracuse City Council in 2019.

He raised far less than the other candidates and focused on a grassroots type campaign. It’s usually a tough road in a race for Congress, but in a low-turnout August primary, even having a small portion of the electorate genuinely excited about your candidacy can leave the door open for an upheaval.

“You’re going to see people who have never voted before,” Majok said. “My campaign was intentional about this. We need to talk about so many expunged people that they have lost hope in the political process – not anymore.

The winner will face one of the two Republican candidates.

Steve Wells, a founding partner of American Food and Vending Corporation in Syracuse and a former district attorney, has the support of a host of local elected Republicans — as well as the representative from North Country. Elise Stefanik — largely in part to his ability and commitment to fund his own campaign.

Wells’ opponent, Brandon Williams, a technology executive and U.S. Navy veteran, poses as a political outsider and has been endorsed by state and local conservative committees.

The crowded races came after New York Democrats redesigned the seat in February to include the deep blue college town of Ithaca. It turned a congressional district that President Joe Biden in 2020 won by 10 percentage points into one he won by 19.

But those plans for a safe new Democratic seat fell apart when state courts found the maps had been improperly altered and imposed new lines. Now, candidates will run for a seat that Biden won by 8 points.

That’s a slightly tighter margin than in the past, but Democrats are benefiting from the retirement of Katko, who has consistently managed to win cross-votes as the most moderate member of an increasingly more polarized.

“Congressman Katko had some pretty unique assets in this district,” Conole said. “I disagreed with him on a whole host of policies…but he also did the right thing, voting for impeachment [of President Donald Trump] at the end.”

Klee Hood suggested Democrats could be boosted by moderate Utica-area voters who were previously represented by far-right Rep. Claudia Tenney after Tenney won the district from Democrat Anthony Brindisi two years ago in with a long and bitter voice count.

“At the end of the day, we have a district that consolidates two Republican districts, but I can tell you that there are a lot of people who had Tenney as their representative who are very happy to have a Democrat,” Klee Hood said. . .


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