On November 8, tens of thousands of Central New Yorkers will flock to the polls to elect a new member to the House of Representatives. The two candidates making bids to replace incumbent Republican John Katko are Democrat Francis Conole, and Republican Brandon Williams. To win their respective nominations, both candidates faced stiff competition. Conole narrowly beat Sarah Klee Hood, an advocate for affordable healthcare, clean energy, and taxes on the wealthy. Meanwhile, Williams pulled off an upset against GOP-backed Steve Wells, who ran on a platform of border security, inflation reduction, and increased policing.
New York’s Congressional District 22 includes all of Onondaga, Oneida, and Madison counties, as well as part of Oswego County. The race centers around Syracuse, as Conole managed to beat Klee Hood, despite only winning Onondaga County. The district was redrawn this year after the New York Court of Appeals determined the previous district was unconstitutionally gerrymandered by Democrats. According to Politico, President Joe Biden carried the new NY District 22 by eight points in the 2020 election. Poll analysis website FiveThirtyEight reports that, despite the redrawn district, the new district favors Democrats by two percent.
Conole, a Syracuse Native and Iraq War veteran, has received over $1 million in funding from large contributors such as Protect Our Future PAC, which supports his commitment to future pandemic prevention. Conole is endorsed by the national Democratic Party and Governor Kathy Hochul (D), following his original nomination for the Independence Party. He has also received notable endorsements from multiple Democratic House Reps. and State Senators, including Central New York’s John Mannion. If elected, Conole hopes to help increase access to healthcare, invest in clean energy, strengthen election security and cybersecurity, codify Roe v. Wade, fight corporate special interests in politics, confront systematic racism, reform the criminal justice system, ensure equal access to education, prevent gun violence, invest in rural communities, support Medicare and Social Security, curb the opioid crisis, and take steps to prevent a future pandemic.
Williams, a software business founder and U.S. Navy veteran, has received just over $200,000 in funding. However, the Conservative Leadership Fund, which previously backed Wells over Williams, has pledged $1.7 million in the coming weeks to support Williams’ campaign. He is backed by Gubernatorial Candidate Lee Zeldin (R), as well as third-ranking House Republican Elise Stefanik (R). In Congress, Williams hopes to increase police funding, establish term limits for Congress, reduce inflation, promote American energy independence, maintain a strong military, support parents’ choice in education, reduce federal power over the states, improve services for veterans, limit abortion except in cases of rape or incest, strengthen election security, protect the Second Amendment, fight illegal immigration, and oppose censorship by large tech companies.
Both candidates attempted to secure a third party ballot line through the Independence Party, a minor party which supports an end to budget deficits and an increase in accountability to the public. Conole and Williams hoped to take advantage of electoral fusion, a system which lists one candidate under multiple parties to pool their votes. However, Williams failed to produce the required 3,500 petition signatures and Conole failed to provide a signed certificate accepting the nomination.
The two candidates will debate live on syracuse.com at noon on October 26, on News Channel 9 (WSYR) at 7 p.m. on October 27, and on News Channel 3 (WSTM) at 7 p.m. on November 2.