As Democrats continue to speculate about U.S. Rep. John Katko's future, Republicans think they're wasting their time. 

Katko, R-Camillus, is running for a fourth term in Congress. After raising more than $521,000 in the second fundraising quarter of the year, he announced his re-election bid. 

But after several House Republicans announced they wouldn't seek re-election in 2020, some national publications have mentioned Katko in stories about other GOP members who could retire. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee referenced one of these stories — an article by FiveThirtyEight.com's Geoffrey Skelley — earlier this week when reiterating that Katko is on the group's "retirement watch list." 

The story mentions that Katko is one of two Republicans representing House districts won by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Katko represents New York's 24th Congressional District, which includes the western part of Oswego County and all of Cayuga, Onondaga and Wayne counties. 

Voter enrollment is also a factor. There are more Democrats than Republicans in the 24th district. 

"With his fellow vulnerable Republicans waving their white flags of defeat with a brutal re-election campaign coming up, Congressman Katko knows his chances of holding onto this seat are becoming less likely with each passing day," said Christine Bennett, a DCCC spokesperson. 

In a radio interview with WAUB Tuesday morning, Katko said the speculation about his future is a "non-story" and repeated his re-election plans. 

Michael McAdams, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, believes that Democrats are hoping for Katko's retirement because that's the only way they can win the 24th district. 

"We will continue to watch and laugh as they spend their resources chasing this retirement fantasy," McAdams said. 

Katko was elected to Congress in 2014. He defeated then-Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei by 20 points. 

In 2016, he won his first re-election bid by 22 points over Democratic challenger Colleen Deacon. The Republican congressman outperformed Clinton and Donald Trump in the 24th district. 

Katko's 2018 re-election campaign was his toughest yet, but he won the race. He defeated Democratic candidate Dana Balter by five percentage points. It was one of the few Republican success stories during the last election cycle. Republicans lost the House majority. In New York, three Republicans — Dan Donovan, John Faso and Claudia Tenney — lost their re-election bids. 

The 2020 election could be another challenging year for congressional Republicans. Democrats named Katko as a top target earlier this year. For Republicans, retaining the 24th district seat is a high priority. 

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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.