This cycle, expect NY-24 to be one of the most avidly contested congressional races in the country. Won by Obama twice, by Clinton in 2016 and last year by Biden-- 53.4% to 44.4%-- this is one of the bluest districts in the country (D+2) with a Republican congressmember, along with David Valadao's CA-21 (D+5) and Maria Salazar's FL-27 (D+4). The incumbent is John Katko, a conservative Republican who always pretends to be a "moderate" right up until it's time to vote.
About two-thirds of the voters live in Syracuse and surrounding Onondaga County, the only blue part of the district, with the rest of the voters in Wayne, Cayuga and Oswego counties, all substantially Republican, although, it's worth mentioning that in the 2016 primaries, Bernie beat Hillary in Wayne, Cayuga and Oswego counties and, though he was narrowly bested by Hillary in Onondaga, still beat Trump 18,057 to 14,372.
Last year, Katko beat Democrat Dana Balter 182,567 (53.1%) to 147,638 (43.0%), with New York's sleazy Working Families Party helping Katko by running their own candidate. This cycle, the DCCC and the conservative wing of the Democratic Party is expected to back a Manchin-Sinema Democrat, Francis Canole, who ran in the 2020 primary and was rejected by NY-24 Democrats because of his reactionary, Republican-lite stand on virtually every important issue. As of today, Blue America has endorsed Steven Holden, who we have asked to introduce himself. If you like what you read, please consider contributing to his campaign by clicking on the Blue America 2022 congressional thermometer above.
The Definition of Insanity
-by Steven Holden
We are fighting a two-front war. On one side we have a reactionary, anti-democratic, authoritarian movement that seeks to destroy and divide our nation. On the other, we have cynical politicians who think that the politics of the past, or the politics of merit will win the day. We need a new approach, one that is bold, and that actually will help the American people.
I want to introduce you to my district. It has a bit of everything-- a big city, suburbs, smaller cities, college towns, and rural areas. It is a mixed bag and is a lot like America in general. People often think of just Syracuse as the whole of this district, but they could not be further from the truth. Historically, we have had candidates who did not get this right, and both parties now get it wrong by being laser focused on one single area. My district (NY-24) has to have representation that supports all voters, not just what others think it is.
Several issues are important to me, but first and foremost is the issue of voting rights. Without it, none of the other issues matter, because we will never get enough Democrats, let alone progressive ones, elected to enact positive change. What is happening in the Senate is outright criminal. I support the elimination of the filibuster because as it is a relic of Jim Crow and has been a hinderance to civil rights and voting reform from the start. Republicans and Centrist Democrats still support it because it maintains their status or power base and have no desire to change it. We need to have this enacted before I would get to Congress. As one would expect, my opponent, John Katko, does not support voting rights expansion, and one is unsure that any centrist Democrat would either, as we see what is happening in the Senate right now. That is why this district is important, as we need to offset right-wing gerrymandering in red states. This is a district that went for the President by nine points in 2020, but still has a GOP member of Congress. It is a must to win this seat.
Next, we must support comprehensive infrastructure reform, and not the watered-down version that came out of the Senate. America must think of infrastructure in a 21st Century model. This includes investment in rural broadband, improving both urban and rural hospitals, fully funding education, and environmental protection. Of course, John Katko opposed all of it calling it a “Democratic wish list.” As far as 20th Century infrastructure goes, my district is home to one of the worst sections of urban highway in the country-- I-81 in Syracuse. It is a critical transportation node on the East Coast for transport and trade going to Canada. Yet, after eight years in Congress, John Katko has done nothing to fix it, and it stands that way today. With 19th Century infrastructure, my district needs investment in the manufacturing base. Both Republicans and centrist Democrats decry “where have the jobs gone?”; however, they have done little to fix the problem. Like a lot of Northern industrial cities, it needs a reimaging of its economy. Our 21st Century plan can fix those 19th Century problems.
I support comprehensive criminal justice reform, but John Katko is a former US Attorney who opposes any sort of reform. He made his name going after communities of color here in South Syracuse; however, he did nothing to indict the former President in the first impeachment trial. If he would have used his “bipartisan card,” maybe he should have voted to indict, convinced the Senate GOP to convict, and maybe January 6th would have never happened. Furthermore, he does not support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act for obvious reasons. Of course, I support that legislation, and I oppose the militarization of our Nation’s law enforcement community. This is Syracuse, not Kandahar.
My final issue is healthcare. John Katko did vote to keep the ACA, but he did a famous Katko vote swap. His favorite member of the NY Delegation to do his swaps was Rep. Elise Stefanik, before she went full MAGA. However, we know where his heart really lies. He receives massive amounts from the pharmaceutical industry, and he voted against needed COVID relief, which would have went to help us recover from the COVID 19 pandemic. Instead, he proposed a “COVID holiday,” or whatever that means.
I want to leave you with how this race pans out. As of 29 July 2021, I am the only Democrat in the race, but that is likely to change. There is talk of a centrist Democrat entering the race, who also is a veteran, who is more establishment. He is no different than Katko. I am the only one who supports real change, and I understand how the system works in DC to find money to support progressive policies that will help working families. If elected, I will work Day One to get legislation passed that will help those working families get a leg up instead of being an afterthought. Thank you for your time, for now is the time to fight!