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Democratic congressional candidate Dana Balter talks to reporters after voting on June 26 in Syracuse.

Less than week after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee established a presence in central New York, the group named Dana Balter to a program that helps challengers running against Republican incumbents. 

Balter, D-Syracuse, has been added to the DCCC's Red to Blue program. In a news release, the House Democrats' campaign arm explained that the party's nominee in the 24th Congressional District race surpassed fundraising and local support goals to qualify for the initiative. 

DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Lujan lauded Balter for running an "impressive grassroots campaign" in the 24th district. 

"Dana Balter understands the challenges facing central New Yorkers because she has lived them," Lujan said. "Inspired by her brother, Dana has built a career working as an advocate for families of disabled individuals. Overcoming her own illness that left her with a pre-existing condition meant she couldn't sit back as thousands of central New Yorkers had their health care threatened." 

Balter is challenging U.S. Rep. John Katko, a Republican seeking a third term in Congress. She defeated Juanita Perez Williams in the June 26 Democratic primary to set up the general election contest. 

Perez Williams, a Syracuse Democrat, launched her campaign in early April with the support of the DCCC. She was quickly added to the Red to Blue program. 

Leading up to the primary, Perez Williams received financial backing from top House Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Lujan's Turquoise PAC also donated to her campaign. 

After Balter's 25-point win in the primary, the DCCC said it would evaluate the race. Last week, the group announced that it would open an office in Syracuse

The office at 213 W. Adams St. in Syracuse, which previously housed Perez Williams' campaign headquarters, will support Balter and other Democratic candidates on the ballot. 

As a candidate in the DCCC's Red to Blue program, Balter will receive fundraising support, access to candidate training sessions and other resources. 

"I'm proud that our campaign is being recognized for the hard work we've done," Balter said in a statement. "Our district deserves a representative who will show up, listen, and stand up for the people of central and western New York."

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