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Former Democratic primary foes unite to support Dana Balter for Congress
ELECTIONS 2020

Former Democratic primary foes unite to support Dana Balter for Congress

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FILE - Roger Misso, Francics Conole and Dana Balter participate in forum in Auburn in August 2019.

They were Dana Balter's opponents in the last two Democratic primary elections. Now, they're supporting her in the race against Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko in New York's 24th Congressional District. 

Francis Conole, Roger Misso and Juanita Perez Williams will headline a virtual phonebank in support of Balter's campaign. The phonebank is Thursday, Sept. 10, and will target voters in the Onondaga County towns of Camillus, Marcellus and Skaneateles. 

"Over the course of our primary campaigns, we got to know Dana Balter," Conole, Misso and Perez Williams said in a joint statement. "At potlucks and community forums in all four counties, we came to deeply admire her toughness, intelligence, and genuine commitment to the lives of everyone in our district no matter who they are or where they live. Dana is a fiercely independent leader with priorities planted firmly on the ground in central New York — not in Washington, D.C." 

Juanita Perez Williams

FILE - In this May 2018 photo, former Democratic congressional candidate Juanita Perez Williams speaks to seniors at the Boyle Center in Auburn.

Conole and Misso were Democratic candidates for Congress in this election cycle. While Misso bowed out of the race in March, Conole lost to Balter in the primary election. 

Perez Williams ran for Congress in 2018. She also lost to Balter in the primary. 

The trio, all of whom are Navy veterans, said they chose Sept. 10 for a specific reason. It's the evening before Sept. 11, the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Conole and Misso were deployed to the Middle East. Misso flew on combat missions, while Conole was on the ground for one year with Army Special Forces in Iraq. 

"As veterans with multiple deployments between us, we know real leadership when we see it — and we know how important that leadership is for our country and our neighbors," Conole, Misso and Perez Williams said. "Over the past year, we have been in the trenches with Dana, working side-by-side with her to earn the trust of voters from every corner of this district. After all that time, it is clear: Dana Balter is a real leader. John Katko is AWOL." 

Balter, D-Syracuse, is challenging Katko, R-Camillus, in one of the most competitive congressional races in the country. Political forecasters rate the race either "lean Republican" or "tilt Republican," which gives Katko a slight advantage. But internal polls released by Democrats show that Balter is either leading or locked in a dead heat with Katko. 

The race is a rematch of the 2018 election. Katko defeated Balter by five percentage points. 

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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