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Rep. John Katko

U.S. Rep. John Katko speaks at a press conference at Clift Park in Skaneateles March 26. 

Robert Harding, The Citizen

U.S. Rep. John Katko added to his hefty campaign war chest in the first fundraising quarter of 2018.

Katko, R-Camillus, raised $266,648.34 from Jan. 1 through March 31, according to a quarterly filing submitted to the Federal Election Commission. His campaign closed the first quarter with $1,247,942.22 in the bank. 

The fundraising haul should give Katko a huge advantage over his two potential Democratic opponents in the 24th Congressional District race. The designated Democratic candidate, Dana Balter, has yet to file her first quarter financial report. Juanita Perez Williams, who was a late entrant into the race, won't be required to submit a fundraising filing until the summer. 

Most of the financial support for Katko's campaign came from political action committees and Protect The House, a joint fundraising committee established to support incumbent Republicans in competitive congressional races. 

Protect The House transferred $52,474.18 to Katko's campaign, records show. The contributions included $5,400 from Robert Mercer, a donor to numerous conservative causes. He also launched a super PAC, Make America Number 1, to support Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. 

Katko also received $5,400 from the Great America Committee, Vice President Mike Pence's PAC. The Tuesday Group's PAC gave $2,500. Katko is co-chair of the Tuesday Group, a coalition of moderate Republicans in Congress. 

Other notable donations include $6,500 from the Air Line Pilots Association PAC, $5,400 from Charles Schwab, chairman of the Charles Schwab Corporation, $2,500 from the Exelon Corporation's PAC and $1,500 from The Freedom Project. 

The Freedom Project is former House Speaker John Boehner's PAC. 

Target, a retail chain, donated $1,000 through its PAC to Katko's campaign. Katko visited a Target location in Camillus a few days before the contribution. The purpose of the visit was to tout the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the federal tax measure Katko supported that Congress passed and Trump signed in December. 

Following that visit to Target, Katko used his social media accounts to claim that Target raised employee wages in response to the new tax law. But Target actually announced three months before passage of the bill that the company would increase the minimum wage for its employees. 

Katko's fundraising performance should prevent any change in 24th district race ratings. Cook Political Report and other political forecasters rate the race "likely Republican." 

The 24th Congressional District includes all of Cayuga, Onondaga and Wayne counties, plus the western part of Oswego County. 

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