Democratic congressional candidate Dana Balter is countering Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko's first TV ad of the general election campaign with a commercial questioning whether he's had a bipartisan legislative record in Congress.
Balter, D-Syracuse, on Friday released her first general election ad in the 24th Congressional District race. In the 30-second video, her campaign highlights two votes: Katko's support of the 2017 tax law and his opposition to the House Democrats' prescription drug price reform proposal in December 2019.
In the ad, Balter claims the tax law "made the super-rich and corporations richer" and that Katko voted to "block Medicare from negotiating lower prescription drug prices" when he opposed the House Democrats' prescription drug price reform bill.
The ad then accuses Katko of siding with Trump to "sabotage the Affordable Care Act" by voting for the 2017 tax law. The tax measure included a provision that ended the health care law's individual mandate penalty. Because of the language in the law, Republican attorneys general filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
"When it matters, John Katko votes with Donald Trump — and against us," the narrator states at the conclusion of the ad.
Balter's campaign confirmed that the ad began airing Friday morning. It will appear on broadcast and cable stations in central New York.
The ad's release comes a few days after Katko, R-Camillus, unveiled his first TV ad of the 2020 campaign. As he did in 2016 and 2018, Katko kicked off his reelection bid by touting his bipartisan legislative record in Congress. He has been recognized by national organizations and think tanks for his willingness to work with Democrats on legislation.
In June, he received an award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for bipartisanship in Congress.
The quick response from Balter's campaign is a departure from what's happened in Katko's past reelection bids. In 2016 and 2018, his Democratic opponents — Colleen Deacon and Balter — didn't release their first general election commercials until late August. Katko had a significant financial advantage early on in both of those races.
Katko still has more in his campaign war chest than Balter — he had $1.28 million in the bank, according to his most recent financial filing. But Balter's ability to quickly release an ad suggests that she's in a stronger financial position than she was at this point in the 2018 race.
The 24th district is a top race for both parties. Democrats view Katko as a vulnerable Republican and believe the race is a prime pickup opportunity. Republicans think Katko is in a strong position to win reelection and that the district is a key piece of their strategy to reclaim the majority.
Katko is seeking a fourth term representing the 24th district, which includes all of Cayuga, Onondaga and Wayne counties, plus the western part of Oswego County. He was first elected in 2014. Balter is a congressional candidate for the second time. She challenged Katko in 2018 and lost by five percentage points.
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.
Get Government & Politics updates in your inbox!
Stay up-to-date on the latest in local and national government and political topics with our newsletter.