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Martin Sheen, president on TV's 'The West Wing,' supporting Dana Balter for Congress
ELECTION 2020

Martin Sheen, president on TV's 'The West Wing,' supporting Dana Balter for Congress

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Climate Protest Fonda

Actor Martin Sheen demonstrates during Fonda-Fire Drill Fridays rally, calling on Congress for action to address climate change on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

After being endorsed by a former president, her party's presidential nominee and an actor who was the president on a hit television series, Democratic congressional candidate Dana Balter may be asking one question. 

"What's next?" 

Martin Sheen, who played President Josiah Bartlet on "The West Wing" for seven seasons, is supporting Balter, D-Syracuse, in the 24th Congressional District race. Balter is challenging Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko, who is seeking a fourth term in Congress. 

Over the weekend, Sheen sent a fundraising email on Balter's behalf asking supporters to donate to her campaign. 

"I don't have the kind of (fictional) power that I used to have as a (fictional) president," Sheen wrote. "But I've devoted my life outside of acting to political activism by doing everything I can to support the causes and candidates that I believe, like Dana Balter. 

"Let me tell you, it's not every day that you meet a candidate like Dana. She is the kind of leader that we tried to portray in 'The West Wing's' best moments — inspiring, hardworking, and dedicated to facing challenges head-on and getting results." 

Balter has been endorsed by several real-life Democratic politicians, including former President Barack Obama, 2020 presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. But Sheen's support is also meaningful for Balter.

In a statement, she shared that she's a huge fan of "The West Wing." 

"The show inspires me as an example of how government can and should be a force for good in people's lives," Balter said. "It was the show that first introduced me to the idea that politics can be a vehicle for bringing about policy change. Years later, it feels like I've come full circle. Now I'm fighting for affordable health care, economic policies that lift up people who are struggling, and an end to big money's influence in politics. I think 'President Bartlet' would be proud." 

Sheen has been an activist and involved in Democratic politics throughout his life. In recent years, he supported Obama in 2008 and 2012 and Hillary Clinton in 2016. 

In the 2020 race, Sheen is supporting candidates who are pushing for action on climate change, accessible health care and prioritizing people over special interests, according to Balter's campaign. 

Sheen wrote in his email to Balter's supporters that the 2020 election is "perhaps the most consequential election of our lifetimes." 

"And I can't picture a better person to represent NY-24 than Dana Balter," he continued. "Dana's determination, and commitment to fighting for NY-24 is evident in her career and her character. She will bring values that are sorely needed to Washington and work to make life better for NY-24." 

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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