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Democratic congressional candidate Francis Conole answers a question during the Auburn/Cayuga NAACP and Indivisible Cayuga candidates forum on Aug. 19 at Auburn High School.

Democratic leaders from the two largest cities in the 24th Congressional District are supporting Francis Conole to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko. 

Auburn City Councilor Debby McCormick, Syracuse Common Councilor Khalid Bey and Syracuse Councilor-elect Pat Hogan endorsed Conole, D-Syracuse, for Congress over the last week. 

McCormick, a Democrat, is the first elected official from Cayuga County to endorse Conole's campaign for Congress. She criticized Katko, R-Camillus, for accepting campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies and his low lifetime voter rating — 27% — from the League of Conservation Voters, a national environmental organization. 

"In stark contrast, Francis Conole refuses to take a dime from corporations, and is the only candidate with the experience growing up in central New York and serving our country in the military, as well as the resources and momentum needed to beat John Katko next fall," McCormick said. "We need fresh leadership that puts the people of central New York first, which is why I'm endorsing Francis Conole to serve the people of New York's 24th Congressional District." 

The endorsements of Bey and Hogan add to the list of Onondaga County elected officials who are supporting Conole's campaign. 

Bey, who endorsed Conole last week, said he's supporting Conole because "politicians in Washington have prioritized special interest groups and failed to show up and fight for the constituents they are supposed to represent."

"I'm excited to join Francis Conole's mission to end politics as usual and bring forward fresh leadership and bold ideas that invests in the needs of our communities here in central New York," Bey added. 

Hogan, who was elected in November to represent the 2nd District as a Syracuse Common Council member, is returning to city government. He represented the district as a councilor from 2006 through 2013. 

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In 2013, he challenged then-Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner in the Democratic primary. Miner defeated Hogan by 26 percentage points. 

Early in Conole's campaign for Congress, Hogan attended events supporting the Democratic candidate. Conole also supported Hogan during his campaign for Syracuse Common Council. 

In a statement, Hogan said Patrick Corbett — Conole's grandfather who is the only Democrat ever elected Onondaga County sheriff — was a friend and mentor. 

"Francis is the only candidate with the experience and operation to beat John Katko next fall, and finally give the people of New York's 24th district a representative committed to serving them," Hogan said. 

With Hogan's endorsement, Conole has the support of five elected officials in the 24th district. He's also been endorsed by Flip NY24, a group committed to electing a Democrat to represent the district. 

Conole's previous endorsements include Onondaga County legislators Peggy Chase and Chris Ryan, and Onondaga County Comptroller-elect Marty Masterpole. 

For now, there is a three-way race for the Democratic nomination in the 24th district. Dana Balter, who challenged Katko in 2018, and Roger Misso, a Red Creek native, are the other candidates in the race. 

Katko is seeking a fourth term representing the 24th district, which includes the western part of Oswego County and all of Cayuga, Onondaga and Wayne counties. 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.