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Cayuga County Democrats endorse Francis Conole for Congress

The Citizen - 2/11/2020

Feb. 11--{{featured_button_text}}

The Cayuga County Democratic Committee believes Francis Conole is the best candidate who can defeat Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko in the 24th Congressional District race.

The committee met Monday and voted to endorse Conole, D-Syracuse, over two other Democrats, Dana Balter and Roger Misso. The vote tally wasn't revealed, but Cayuga County Democratic Chairman Ian Phillips said a candidate must get a simple majority of the vote to secure the endorsement.

"Francis Conole has the unique background, as a central New York native and Iraq War veteran, to beat John Katko in November and bring forth fresh leadership and bold ideas to deliver real results in our region," Phillips said.

Conole, a U.S. Navy veteran, is a first-time candidate. He grew up in Westvale and attended Westhill High School in Onondaga County. He attended and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy.

As the designation process unfolded, Conole received support from several Cayuga County Democrats. His supporters include Auburn Mayor Michael Quill, Auburn City Councilor Debby McCormick, Cayuga County legislators Elane Daly and Heidi Nightengale, former Cayuga County Democratic Chairwoman Katie Lacey and David McKeon, who has long been involved in the Democratic Party and whose late father, William, chaired the state committee.


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In a statement, Conole said he's honored to have the Cayuga County Democratic Committee's support.

"As I have traveled throughout NY-24, central New Yorkers are telling me that they feel the financial squeeze of rising health care and prescription drug costs, anxiety about the climate crisis affecting our lakes and drinking water, and left behind by career politicians in Washington cozying up to corporations and special interests," he said.

Conole continued, "I'm running for Congress to bring forward fresh leadership and bold ideas that deliver real results on these key issues, and I look forward to working with our committee members and grassroots activists to beat John Katko in November and get to work for the people of New York's 24th district."

Democrats in Cayuga and Oswego counties initially planned to meet and make a joint endorsement, but the committees held separate meetings and endorsed different candidates. While the Cayuga Democrats went for Conole, Oswego Democrats endorsed Balter.

The Wayne County Democratic Committee didn't hold a designation meeting for the congressional seat. Mark Alquist, the committee chair, told The Citizen in January that because of the strength of the candidates, the committee is letting the primary process decide the party's nominee.

Another endorsement in the race will come Saturday when the Onondaga County Democratic Committee, largest party committee in the 24th district, meets to designate a candidate. While that endorsement will be significant, it likely won't prevent a primary. The candidates plan on continuing to campaign in the district and letting voters determine the nominee.

The primary election is Tuesday, June 23.

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

Robert Harding

Robert Harding

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

Follow Robert Harding


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