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FILE - In this June 2018 photo, Democratic congressional candidate Dana Balter talks to reporters after voting on primary day in Syracuse.

For the second election cycle in a row, a leading national progressive organization is supporting Dana Balter in the 24th Congressional District race. 

Democracy for America, which has 3,759 members in the 24th district, endorsed Balter, D-Syracuse, for Congress. The group backed Balter in her first run for Congress in 2018 and donated $3,330 to her campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records. 

Yvette Simpson, CEO of Democracy for America, explained in a statement Wednesday why the group is supporting Balter. She highlighted Balter's support of Medicare for all and public education. 

Balter is one of three Democrats seeking to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko in 2020. She lost to Katko by five points in the 2018 race. 

Before facing Katko last year, Balter defeated Juanita Perez Williams in the Democratic primary. Perez Williams was backed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Democrats' political arm. 

Despite national Democrats' involvement in the race, Balter won the primary by 25 points. 

"Dana Balter shocked New York insiders with a people-powered primary win back in 2018 and, in 2020, she's going to shock the country when she ends John Katko's congressional career," Simpson said. 

After her general election defeat, Balter remained involved in central New York politics and established a nonprofit organization to boost civic engagement in the Syracuse area. 

In April, Balter announced she will seek the Democratic nomination in 2020. 

Balter welcomed the support of Democracy for America, a Vermont-based political group that was founded by former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean. 

"While central and western New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet, Congressman Katko is part of the problem in Washington — raking in corporate PAC dollars as he votes over and over again to make life harder for us," she said. "We've seen the results of Katko's extreme agenda: big tax breaks for the wealthy and higher health care and prescription drug costs."

Balter continued, "Together with DFA, we'll fight for policies that finally put New York's hard-working families first." 

Democracy for America is the first national group to endorse in the 24th district race and it's the first endorsement announced by Balter since she launched her second congressional bid. 

The first endorsement in the race was announced by Democratic candidate Francis Conole, a U.S. Navy veteran and Syracuse resident. He has the support of Onondaga County Legislator Peggy Chase, who also chairs the 5th Ward Democratic Committee in Syracuse. 

Democrats in Cayuga, Onondaga, Oswego and Wayne counties will meet early next year to designate a candidate in the congressional race. Even if the committees designate a candidate, a primary is still possible. 

The 2020 congressional primary would be held Tuesday, June 23. The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 3. 

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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.


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.