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Democratic candidate for Congress, Dana Balter, right, speaks during a forum on Wednesday, Feb. 7 in Auburn at the Hilton Garden Inn.

A large collection of activists, including members of the Indivisible movement in central New York, reiterated its support for Dana Balter and questioned why the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee would intervene in the primary election. 

The grassroots groups released a four-paragraph statement in response to Juanita Perez Williams' entry into the 24th Congressional District race and reports that the DCCC, the House Democrats' campaign arm, is assisting Perez Williams with her attempt to qualify for the June 26 primary ballot. 

The DCCC's involvement comes at a pivotal point in the campaign. Candidates are facing a Thursday deadline to submit at least 1,250 valid signatures to qualify for the Democratic primary. 

Balter, D-Syracuse, has been a candidate for Congress for seven months and won the Democratic designation from the four county committees in February. Two of her potential primary opponents, Scott Comegys and Anne Messenger, dropped out after the designation process. A third, Bill Bass, remained in the race but is now planning to run as an independent

Last week, Perez Williams entered the race. She told The Citizen Thursday night that it was her decision to run for Congress and believes she is the best candidate to challenge U.S. Rep. John Katko, a two-term Republican.

The statement from members of central New York progressive groups doesn't mention Perez Williams. But they do question why the DCCC would intervene, especially this late in the process. 

"Right now, they are paying people to pass petitions to get their handpicked candidate on the ballot," the activists wrote. "The DCCC is imposing its priorities and decisions on local residents. Instead of fostering a collaborative relationship with grassroots organizations, they are using their funds to erase our work." 

The DCCC hasn't commented on its role in the 24th district race or its apparent support for Perez Williams' campaign. 

The groups supporting Balter are familiar with her because of her work as an activist in the region. Before launching her congressional bid, she was a prominent member of the Central New York Solidarity Coalition, a group that formed after the 2016 election to oppose President Donald Trump's agenda. 

There were "extensive endorsement processes," the grassroots groups said, to support a candidate in the 24th Congressional District race. They added that Balter is their "unanimous choice." 

National Democrats hope for a "blue wave" in November. The party believes that they can at least win back the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate. To regain the House majority, they must win in districts like the 24th. 

But party infighting, at least in the 24th district, could jeopardize the Democrats' chances of winning in November. 

"The DCCC has promised to focus on grassroots strength and listen to the people who live in districts," the coalition of activists wrote. "We call on the DCCC to honor their commitments, stop their activities immediately and instead join all of us in our support of Dana Balter." 

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