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U.S. Congressman John Katko speaks during a naturalization ceremony at The Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn.

The Oswego County Republican Committee is the first of the four county GOP organizations to endorse U.S. Rep. John Katko for re-election in the 24th Congressional District. 

The committee met Thursday and voted unanimously to support Katko, R-Camillus, in his bid for a fourth term. Katko was first elected in 2014 and has been re-elected twice to represent the district, which includes the western portion of Oswego County and all of Cayuga, Onondaga and Wayne counties. 

Fred Beardsley, who chairs the Oswego County Republican Committee, said the panel is "proud to once again stand with Congressman John Katko" as he vies for a fourth term. 

"Whether he's fighting to strengthen our economy and secure our border, or focusing on local projects like addressing Plan 2014 and putting Fort Ontario on the path toward becoming a national park, Congressman Katko has always stood up for Oswego County in Washington," Beardsley said. 

In a statement, Katko said he's "honored" to have the unanimous support of the Oswego County GOP. 

"I am proud to fight on behalf of Oswego County to expand the economy, create jobs, secure our border, and stand up for shoreline property owners, businesses and residents," he said. "We have more work to do, and I'm proud to have the strong support of Oswego County Republicans." 

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The endorsement comes early in the political calendar — the 2020 general election is nearly a year away — but there has been an active campaign for the 24th district seat since April. That's when three Democrats — Dana Balter, Francis Conole and Roger Misso — launched their candidacies for their party's nomination. 

Balter, D-Syracuse, challenged Katko in 2018. Katko won by five percentage points in his closest race yet. 

Democratic committees are holding forums and will likely endorse a candidate in early 2020, but a primary is possible. The primary election would be held June 23, 2020. 

The 24th district race is a top priority for both parties. Democrats view it as a prime pickup opportunity in a presidential election year. Republicans want to retain the seat because it's key to them winning back control of the House, which they lost in 2018. 

Katko announced in July that he's running for re-election and has raised more than $1.1 million to support his campaign. 

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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.