I’ll start with a disclaimer, several months is an eternity in politics and any predictions made this early can be turned upside down by a single event, planned or unplanned. That being said, I can predict that in true form, democrats will seize defeat from the jaws of victory. For the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, jumping into the 24th Congressional race against incumbent Republican John Katko will prove to be disastrous.
The last minute primary challenge plays an important role in the national Democratic Party’s efforts to retake the House of Representatives. The 24th Congressional district has become one of the “swingiest” congressional districts on the map.
The last minute insertion of Juanita Perez Williams is perceived by many local Democratic Party rank and file members as a slap in the face, totally disrespecting the wishes of those on the ground, in Central New York. In published reports, the DCCC strikes back, with the comment by chair U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, who stated about Perez Williams, she’s “A veteran, a former JAG officer, a Latina — she has the right to run for Congress.”
Her perceived “right” is also viewed as betrayal; after she passed petitions, donated money and attended a Dana Balter campaign event. Before the food from the fundraiser could be digested, Juanita Perez Williams jumped into the race. Her decision comes after the local Democratic Party representing 4 counties, interviewed potential candidates, passed nominating petitions and made their decision.
If Perez Williams is successful in wresting the nomination from Dana Balter, a candidate who united the various factions of Central New York Progressives, she’ll lose to Congressman John Katko.
From a distance when you check all of the appropriate democratic demographic boxes, Juanita Perez Williams looks like a smart choice. It could have been a smart choice a month ago, but not now.
When you lose a city that’s as democratic as Washington D.C. you don’t get a gold star next to your name. When you fail to garner the support of key members from the African-American community in a failed mayoral bid, how do you turn that around?
There’s a reason why she lost the support of key African-American elected officials in Syracuse and Onondaga County, who are also democrats. The Perez Williams mayoral campaign for Syracuse fractured a generation old coalition of democrats and activists. It was her race to lose and she proceeded to do so.
Her campaign engaged in heckling independent candidate Ben Walsh in Spanish. The incident known as, “the Westcott Street Massacre” effectively torpedoed her chances of becoming mayor of Syracuse N.Y. Do you believe the Katko Congressional re-election campaign will not bring that up?
With the DCCC and Juanita Perez Williams seemingly betraying the party’s nominee Dana Balter, if successful, do you expect Progressives to come running home to Perez Williams?
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee viewing the political landscape predicts a blue wave of democrats, and it’s become clear that they want their people in that wave. Selections made by local democrats who do the ground work, such as collecting signatures to get candidates on the ballot are ignored in the DCCC’s quest to win back the House of Representatives.
With so many seats in play nationally, local democrats may simply vote for Dana Balter on another party’s line on the ballot effectively telling the DCCC to, “Get your House of Representatives majority elsewhere.” That’s how John Katko survives this impending democratic blue wave, and will be Congressman representing Central New York for many years to come.
The photograph “Westcott Street Massacre” is a finalist in the Online Journalism Category of the Syracuse Press Club Awards. One of only two photographs selected as winners in that category. 1st and 2nd Place winners will be announced on May 5th at the 40th Annual Syracuse Press Club Professional Recognition Awards Dinner.