Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who was widely considered to be the top potential Democratic challenger to U.S. Rep. John Katko in 2016, has opted not to run for the 24th Congressional District seat.
Miner issued a statement Friday announcing her decision.
"For several months now, encouraged by fellow Democrats locally and nationally, I have considered a run for Congress," she said. "After much thought, I have decided not to pursue a campaign for Congress.
“I will always be grateful for the support and counsel I have received these past few months. I feel I am actively involved in a series of issues crucial to the long-term health and vitality of our city. I look forward to continuing to advocate for these issues in the years ahead."
Miner is serving her second term as mayor of Syracuse and has become a leader on municipal infrastructure issues. She also served a short stint as co-chair of the New York State Democratic Committee.
With Miner out of the race, Democrats will need to look elsewhere for a candidate in a race they believe is winnable in 2016.
Katko, R-Camillus, has been labeled a "one-term wonder" by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Democrats' campaign arm. The group points to President Barack Obama's performance in the 24th Congressional District — he won the district in 2012 with 57 percent of the vote — as they make the case that Katko can be defeated in 2016, a presidential election year.
"Congressman Katko faces a math problem in this district and with a record of saying one thing in New York and doing another in Washington, he faces a trust deficit with voters," DCCC spokesman Matt Thornton said. "In a short time, Congressman Katko has proven himself to be a typical Washington politician who's put special interests and his party leaders before central New Yorkers.
"We look forward to having a strong, Democratic candidate in 2016 who will present a clear contrast to Congressman Katko and the dysfunctional Republican Congress."
Ian Prior, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, offered a different view.
"In just five months, John Katko has established himself as a rising star in Congress who will work in a bipartisan manner to deliver for Central New York," Prior said in an email. "So we can certainly understand why Stephanie Miner would take a pass on a likely defeat to Katko in 2016."
Katko was first elected in November. He defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei by 20 points in the 24th District race.
In 2016, Katko will look to become the first Syracuse-area House member since U.S. Rep. Jim Walsh to win a re-election bid.
Walsh, a Republican, won re-election in 2006 before deciding not to seek another term in 2008. Since then, the seat has changed hands between Democrats and Republicans, with Maffei winning in 2008 and 2012 and U.S. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle and Katko, both Republicans, winning in 2010 and 2014, respectively.
The 24th Congressional District includes all of Cayuga, Onondaga and Wayne counties, plus the western portion of Oswego County.