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Conole, Williams agree to two debates in CNY House race

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Conole Williams

Francis Conole, left, and Brandon Williams are the candidates for the 22nd Congressional District seat. 

Francis Conole and Brandon Williams have agreed to two debates in the 22nd Congressional District race. 

Conole, D-Syracuse, and Williams, R-Sennett (Cayuga County), will participate in debates hosted by NewsChannel 9 and Post-Standard. The dates and times will be announced soon. 

Both candidates are eager to debate. Conole said in a statement that the election "will offer the voters of central New York a clear choice and stark differences." Michael Gordon, Williams' campaign manager, told The Citizen that "Brandon is looking forward to debating to tell the people of NY-22 why he's the best fit to represent them in Congress."

There were other debate invitations. Graham Nolen, Conole's campaign manager, confirmed that three other news outlets — CNY Central, Spectrum News and WRVO — were interested in hosting debates. With CNY Central and Spectrum News, it would give the candidates two additional opportunities to debate on television. WRVO would've hosted the only radio debate. 

"Unfortunately, we just couldn't do all of them so we accepted the Post-Standard and Channel 9 (debate) who were the first two to ask us," Nolen said, adding that they "wish we could've done more but it's hard with only 11 weeks in the general election." 

Gordon, speaking for Williams, said the GOP nominee accepted CNY Central's invitation. But that was one of the invites that Conole's camp declined. 

The debates will highlight the differences between Conole and Williams, both of whom are U.S. Navy veterans. Conole's general election messaging has included a focus on Williams' anti-abortion stance. At least one Democratic outside group has criticized Williams' position in a TV ad. 

Republicans have attacked Conole for supporting a COVID-19 relief bill, which they say contributed to the inflation spike. 

Conole and Williams are running to represent the new 22nd district, which is comprised of Onondaga, Madison and Oneida counties. A small portion of Oswego County is also in the district. 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or 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

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