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Francis Conole

Francis Conole, a Syracuse resident and Iraq War veteran, will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. John Katko in the 24th Congressional District race. 

Francis Conole is off to a fast start raising money for the 24th Congressional District race. 

Conole, D-Syracuse, announced Thursday that he has raised more than $100,000 in the first four days of his campaign. He launched his campaign for Congress Monday. 

The Iraq War veteran revealed that a majority of the contributions were small-dollar donations. In an email to supporters earlier this week, he pledged to not accept donations from corporate political action committees. 

"I'm deeply humbled by the outpouring of grassroots support in these first few days of our campaign, and I'm dedicated to using my experience, growing up in our community and serving our country, to find real solutions that support the people of central New York," Conole said. 

Conole is one of three Democrats seeking the party's nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. John Katko, a three-term Republican. The other candidates are Dana Balter, who challenged Katko in 2018 and launched her second campaign for Congress Tuesday, and Roger Misso. Misso, like Conole, is a Navy veteran. 

The 24th district is comprised of the western towns in Oswego County and all of Cayuga, Onondaga and Wayne counties. 

Katko, R-Camillus, will run for re-election in 2020. He raised more than $284,000 in the first quarter of 2019, according to his campaign finance report published on the Federal Election Commission website. 

Conole has made campaign finance reform a top issue in his nascent congressional bid. Along with the pledge to refuse corporate PAC money, he supports overturning the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and a public financing system that would provide matching funds to candidates who receive small-dollar donations. 

As a candidate and if elected to Congress, Conole said he will advocate for getting big money out of politics. 

"Corporate interests have been buying elected officials for too long," he told The Citizen this week. "It has led to more and more policies which gut the middle class and leave working families struggling." 

Without reform, though, fundraising will remain a key factor in determining a candidate's viability. Balter's campaign received more attention outside central New York when she raised $1.5 million in a quarter last year. She set a record for most money raised in a quarter by a Syracuse-area congressional candidate. 

With Conole raising a six-figure sum in a four-day period, his campaign views it as a strong show of support from 24th district voters early in the election cycle. 

"Fundraising numbers like these in just four days is a clear indication that people believe it is time for new leaders in Washington and are ready to join Francis Conole's mission to rebuild central New York's middle class," said Will Van Nuys, Conole's campaign manager. 

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