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ELECTIONS

Dana Balter endorsed by top NY House Democrat, prominent freshman rep before primary

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Dana Balter 2.JPG

FILE - In this June 2018 photo, Democratic congressional candidate Dana Balter talks to reporters after voting on primary day in Syracuse.

Two members of Congress, including the top House Democrat from New York, are supporting Dana Balter in her bid for the Democratic nomination in the 24th Congressional District. 

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens, tweeted Wednesday that he is endorsing Balter, D-Syracuse, in the 24th district's Democratic primary. Balter and Francis Conole are vying for the party's nomination to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko. 

"We can flip at least two more Republican seats in New York this year," wrote Jeffries, who is the chair of the House Democratic Caucus. "One of them is in Syracuse. And (Balter) is the one to do it." 

Jeffries' endorsement less than a week before the June 23 primary election adds to Balter's growing list of supporters. She has been endorsed by several national organizations, including the Congressional Progressive Caucus and EMILY's List. More than two dozen local Democratic leaders are backing her campaign. 

In a statement, Balter praised Jeffries for his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to address systemic racism. 

"I look forward to working with him in Congress to improve economic security, the public health and racial justice for all New Yorkers," she said. 

Along with Jeffries' support, Balter also received the backing of U.S. Rep. Katie Porter. Porter, a California Democrat, was elected in 2018 and represents a district Republicans held for 35 years. 

Porter rose to prominence with her performances during congressional hearings. As a member of the House Financial Services and Oversight and Reform committees, she has gained a reputation as a tough questioner. 

Porter said in a statement that she's supporting Balter because the Syracuse Democrat is "a tireless champion for working families." 

"Dana will be a great partner on key issues including ensuring that everyone has health care, getting big money out of our politics and creating an economy that works for all," Porter said. "I know what it takes to flip a seat from red to blue and Dana Balter is the strongest candidate to win in November." 

Porter could be a model for Balter. Like Porter, Balter is challenging an incumbent Republican in a district that has largely been a GOP stronghold. 

Balter lauded Porter for her support of issues important to women and working families. 

"I have been inspired over the last year and a half, watching her hold the Trump administration accountable on key issues like the coronavirus response, housing and consumer protections," Balter said. "I look forward to fighting alongside Rep. Porter when I'm in Congress to make sure that our health care and economic systems work for everyday folks." 

The endorsements add to Balter's momentum in the Democratic primary contest. Last week, her campaign released an internal poll showing that Balter led Conole by 29 points, 60 to 31%, in the primary election. Two national election reform groups, End Citizens United and Let America Vote, endorsed her for Congress. 

Thousands of absentee ballots have already been returned in the 24th district. Early voting, which began Saturday, continues through Sunday. Election Day is Tuesday, June 23. 

The 24th district includes the western part of Oswego County and all of Cayuga, Onondaga and Wayne counties. 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. 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 auburnpub.com.

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