Dana Balter’s headquarters in East Syracuse is bustling with staffers working on the campaign. This race has taken a tone mirroring the national political tension as we enter Labor Day weekend. Traditionally, once Labor Day has passed, the electorate begins to focus on political matters. However, negative campaign ads have already started prematurely dropping like autumn leaves.
It’s election time as you see lawn signs popping up; another indicator, campaign season is upon us. The Race for the 24th is expected to take center stage as rhetoric has sharpened on both sides. Campaign spending from outside groups is expected to be high since this has been identified as a swing district. We wanted to get an update on the race to capture the 24th Congressional District, Urban CNY interviewed Democratic Party candidate Dana Balter.
What about that Poll?
After the interview, a new poll was released showing Balter behind Katko by 15%. The Balter campaign responded,” The recent Siena Poll was conducted by the same group that conducted the primary poll which showed Balter behind by 13 points and she ended up winning by 25 points. The campaign will continue to put in all the same work we’ve been putting in by knocking on doors, talking with constituents, and making sure people have a representative who will show up and listen.”
Accusations of “Dark Money” and The Congressional Leadership Fund
“Dark Money” has made its appearance in Central New York as Balter’s campaign has accused Congressman John Katko of working with The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a DC-based super PAC that has committed over $1 million to support Congressman John Katko’s reelection campaign. According to the Balter Campaign “The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the CLF – which has been working in New York’s 24th District for over 14 months – has obtained and distributed an unredacted copy of a former covert CIA officer’s federal security clearance application.”
Where is the Dana Balter Campaign for Congress at this point?
Balter: “We are humming along, we have a tremendous amount of momentum that has come with us out of the primary, and were continuing to build on that. Since the Primary we have been named to the DCCC’s Red to Blue list which is great. I think it’s important recognition for all the hard work we’ve done and an acknowledgement of the idea that this is a very winnable race and that we’re planning on it in November.”
John Katko recently went to the Boy’s and Girls Clubs to tout his support for expanding feeding programs?
Balter: “Typical of what we see from the Congressman when he’s campaigning, he tends to choose good photo ops. The question is, where is he when the camera’s not watching, or more importantly where is he not. I’ve been waiting on John Katko to do something meaningful for the City of Syracuse. To work on anti-poverty programs, to work to bring more affordable housing, to address any of the issues that a city like Syracuse; which struggles so desperately with poverty desperately needs, it really needs a champion at the federal level. John Katko doesn’t ever address those things, and hasn’t done any work at the national level to help our communities in need, so as far as I’m concerned a photo op during a campaign doesn’t take place of the work that really needs to be done. “
As the campaign has gone on have there been any changes to issues that CNY voters are concerned about?
Balter: “I don’t think there have been changes. I’ve been hearing consistently about the same concerns since I started this campaign. People are still talking to me about healthcare. If anything, I think that those circumstances have gotten worse,people are more concerned now than they were. After the passing of the Trump Katko Tax Bill, we’ve seen our premiums rise by astonishing amounts, one of the largest insurers in CNY is telling us to prepare for a 36% increase in our premiums. We know that because of that vote on taxes people with pre-existing conditions are now at risk. That means we’re talking about approximately 300,000 adults in our Congressional District. I think that the same concerns people have been talking to me about all along have just intensified.”
If you were to win, how would you deal with President Trump, as a member of Congress?
Balter: “First of all, I intend to go to congress with a mind to get important work done for Central and Western New York and for our country. That means we need to be prepared to work with people, including people that we disagree with on things where we can agree. One example of a policy area where we can find a lot of agreement, including with the president is on infrastructure. Which We know we need to make tremendous investments all across the country, Central New York has very significate infrastructure needs, it’s not only a problem we have to address for our community, it’s also an opportunity to create, tons and tons of good paying union jobs. And help revitalize our economy here. I would head in there with a mind towards finding compromise and working together on issues that we can. I also think that it is critically important for congress to hold president trump accountable. One of the most important functions that our congress serves is as a check on the executive. This GOP Congress with John Katko, has absolutely abdicated that responsibility. They are no longer serving as a check on this president; instead they are enabling his worst instincts, his attacks on the fundamentals of democracy, on separation of powers, on the court, on the free press. We need a congress that is willing to hold him accountable and stay true to their oath to protect and defend the Constitution.”
What are your plans moving forward with the campaign?
Balter: “We are going to keep doing what we’ve been doing all along. We are traveling from end to end in this district. Getting into as many rooms as we can, in as many businesses we can. We have a schedule of Town Halls we’re doing one in every county. I think that the most important thing is to remain engaged with the people who live in this district, keep open lines of communication and make sure that I’m hearing from them, what their concerns are and that they’re hearing from me, what I think we can do to address those concerns. I think that that connection and the commitment to doing that has made this campaign as successful as it is and I think that is what’s going to lead us to victory in November. “