NY-24 Labeled Top Ten House Race to Watch By Luke Perry
NY-24 was recently labeled one of the top ten House races to watch by Politico. Elena Schneider, the author of the piece, wrote that “while Democrats have seen a flood of interested candidates in battleground districts around the country, there are still a few holes in the roster.” This includes NY-24, which “has not drawn a top-tier Democratic challenger for 2018,” despite being a top Democratic target since 2014.
This year two of seven potential Democratic challengers have joined the race, Anne Messenger and Dana Balter. Messenger is a management professional, active in service and leadership. Balter is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Maxwell School of Public Affairs at Syracuse University, where she also works as a Visiting Professor, with expertise in education policy and public finance. Balter has been a prominent community organizer since the 2016 election.
The big unknown is whether Stephanie Miner, the mayor of Syracuse, will run. Miner decided not to run in October, but recently reconsidered after Representative Katko voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Miner, whose term just expired, has been courted by Democrats, while also considering launching a primary challenge to Governor Cuomo.
Representative Denny Heck, recruiter for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), stated that Democrats are pursuing a competitive alternative, if Miner does not run. According to Heck, the NY-24 is one of “only four meaningful holes” nationwide in which Democrats are seeking formidable and well-funded challengers. Messenger and Balter are lacking in political experience and name recognition, while “seriously struggling to raise money.”
The DCCC started hiring campaign staff in February for NY-22 and NY-24. “The DCCC is hiring organizers earlier than ever,” explained Evan Lukaske, a spokesman for the campaign contingent of House Democrats, “to take advantage of the grassroots energy we’re seeing in places like Central New York.”
Sabato’s Crystal Ball believes Democrats have become competitive in NY-22, recently rating the race a “toss-up,” yet the NY-24 remains “likely Republican.” February 1 is the deadline for Miner to decide whether or not to run as that is the deadline to declare set by the Onondaga County Democratic Committee. Onondaga County is the largest in the district.
Representative Katko successfully distanced himself from Donald Trump in 2016, “playing up his party-line-crossing-voting record.” That’s going to be more difficult with his “yes” vote on The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, while Katko has voted with President Trump 90 percent of time during Trump's first year in office. The reverberations of the tax cut and fate of his Democrat challenger(s) will be instrumental to shaping the race in the weeks to come.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
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