It was his toughest election yet, but U.S. Rep. John Katko won a third term in Congress Tuesday. 

Katko, R-Camillus, defeated Democratic challenger Dana Balter in the 24th Congressional District race. He won by a 53 to 47 percent margin over Balter. The unofficial vote tally was 129,276 for Katko and 114,102 for Balter. 

NY-24Katko (R)Balter (D)

Balter, D-Syracuse, narrowly won Onondaga County, but Katko won by double digits in Cayuga, Oswego and Wayne counties. 

In his victory speech at the Republican election night party in Syracuse, Katko lauded Balter for being a "very tough opponent." He acknowledged the results in House races across the country. Democrats won enough seats nationwide to regain control of the House of Representatives, which means he will be in the minority for the first time. 

"It's going to be a new adventure, but that's OK," he said. 

He pledged to work in a bipartisan manner with Democrats. He said he will continue his membership with the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers that advocate for policy solutions on issues ranging from health care to infrastructure. 

He's confident he can continue to score legislative victories. 

"I'm going to be in the minority, but that doesn't change a thing about how I'm going to act," he added. 

Shortly after Katko's victory speech, Balter addressed the crowd at the Democratic election night gathering in Syracuse. She said she called Katko to concede the race. 

"Although we disagreed on many issues, I have said over and over again I admire his dedication to public service and I hope that he works for us in the new Congress," she said. 

It's Katko's second successful re-election bid. He was first elected to Congress in 2014, defeating then-Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei by 20 points. He won re-election in 2016 by a 22-point margin over Democratic challenger Colleen Deacon. 

Balter campaigned on Medicare-for-all, preserving Medicare and Social Security, repealing the tax law supported by Katko and an agenda aimed at reforming government and politics. She said her top priority if elected to Congress would be campaign finance reform and reducing the influence of wealthy interests in politics. 

Katko touted his legislative record throughout the campaign. He frequently mentioned a Lugar Center study that found he was the seventh-most bipartisan member of Congress. He highlighted the 33 bills he's passed through the House in two terms, and the 20 that have been signed into law by Presidents Obama and Trump. 

The election capped off a race that slowly developed but became more competitive in the final weeks. Balter had to fend off a primary challenge by Juanita Perez Williams, who was the national Democrats' preferred candidate. She won the June primary by 25 points. 

In early October, Balter's campaign revealed that the Democratic challenger raised more than $1.5 million — a record for a Syracuse-area congressional candidate. She out-raised Katko by more than $1 million, and brought more attention to the race. 

After Balter's fundraising haul, outside groups invested more in the 24th district. House Majority PAC, a Democratic-aligned super PAC, spent more than $1.3 million. The National Republican Congressional Committee, leading GOP outside group that got involved in the race, reported expenditures totaling $788,086. 

A Spectrum News/Syracuse.com/Siena College poll released in late October showed Katko leading Balter by 14 points. But that poll was an outlier. Internal polling, according to Democratic and Republican sources, showed that the race tightened. 

On Tuesday, the results confirmed what the internal polling found. However, Katko held off Balter's late charge to win re-election. 

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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.