When U.S. Rep. John Katko decided he wouldn't vote for Republican nominee Donald Trump in the presidential election, he said he would support either a third party candidate or submit a write-in vote.
On Election Day, he chose the latter. Katko, R-Camillus, said Tuesday he voted for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a fellow Republican.
"I saw what she did with respect to the church shooting and the whole Confederate flag issue. She handled it well," Katko said, referring to Haley's response in the aftermath of the 2015 shooting at a Charleston church.
Katko met Haley when she testified at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing in April. The hearing focused on the proposed transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba to sites in the United States, including the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston.
It had been 10 years since an incumbent won in the Syracuse-area congressional race.
At the hearing, Katko asked Haley questions about the potential impact of housing the detainees in South Carolina.
Katko said he approached Haley after the hearing.
"I went up to her, shook her hand and said, 'Why aren't you running (for president)?" And she laughed," he said. "I thought she was strong."
Earlier this year, Katko pledged to support the Republican nominee for president. But he backed off that commitment when it became clear Trump would secure the party's nomination.
Katko expressed concerns about Trump, but didn't rule out supporting him. He said Trump would have to earn his vote.
And then came the release of a video showing Trump making sexually aggressive comments about women. Katko condemned the remarks.
The next day, he made his decision: He wouldn't vote for Trump in the presidential election.
Democrats criticized Katko for months and attempted to link the GOP congressman to his party's nominee for president. Even after Katko said he wouldn't vote for Trump, Democrats doubled down on the line of attack.
Tying Katko to Trump, as it turned out, wasn't enough to derail the GOP congressman's re-election bid. He defeated his opponent, Democratic challenger Colleen Deacon, by 20 points.
Katko did need a couple of tries to cast his ballot with a write-in vote for president. Because he wrote outside of the write-in margin, the machine wouldn't accept his ballot. He completed a second ballot and it was successfully submitted.
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