Election 2016

John Katko wins re-election to House of Representatives seat

Wasim Ahmad | Staff Photographer

John Katko won re-election on Tuesday to a second term in the United States House of Representatives.

Republican incumbent Rep. John Katko won re-election on Tuesday to his seat in the House of Representatives for New York’s 24th Congressional District.

Katko defeated Democratic challenger Colleen Deacon, a Syracuse University alumna who trailed Katko in the polls throughout the election cycle in the race for the 24th District, which includes all of Onondaga County as well as all of Cayuga and Wayne counties and some of Oswego County.

With 93 percent of the 24th District reporting, Katko had garnered 60 percent of the vote. In Onondaga County, he won about 58 percent of the vote, or just under 110,000 votes, according to the Onondaga County Board of Elections.

Deacon conceded the race at 10:54 p.m. Tuesday night after speaking with Katko on the phone, she said.

At Katko’s watch party inside the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel and Conference Center, about 500 supporters gathered, some of them local politicians. Katko gave his victory speech just before 11:30 p.m., during which he said he is committed to the people of New York’s 24th Congressional District.

“I don’t represent Republicans, I don’t represent Democrats, I don’t represent Independents,” he said. “I represent all of you.”

While Katko remained unseen for most of the night, those in attendance celebrated the success of Republican congressional candidates and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. They watched live feeds of the presidential, congressional and local elections broadcasted on screens for attendees to watch.

At Deacon’s watch party inside the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, the mood was much different, turning particularly somber as she took the stage around 11 p.m. to give her concession speech. Deacon said she was proud of her campaign and promised to continue working for Syracuse and the rest of central New York.

“I didn’t do this for me,” she said. “… I did this for the people of central New York.”

During her campaign, Deacon made “strengthening families” a common theme. She proposed closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and passing equal pay legislation to shrink the gender wage gap, while she has also voiced support for Planned Parenthood. She also said, if elected, she would push for comprehensive paid family leave allowing workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for newborn or ill children, a sick spouse or elderly parents.

Katko, an SU College of Law alumnus and Syracuse native, has served in Congress since 2015. He has characterized himself as an independent member of Congress not afraid to branch away from Republicans. During his first term, he was one of only three Republicans to oppose a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act, and he objected the amendment of a bill introduced by a Republican that would have terminated the suspension of the deportation of young undocumented immigrants.

As a member of Congress, Katko has often emphasized national security issues. He has served as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Transportation Security Subcommittee since 2015. The subcommittee — which has jurisdiction over all of the Transportation Security Administration’s security matters — includes both Republicans and Democrats, reflecting Katko’s bipartisan approach in politics.

Katko, while in Congress, has also supported lower taxes and reduced levels of government spending in an effort to create jobs and improve the economy. He has also said he plans to work in a bipartisan manner to pass legislation that would address the rising amount of student loan debts across the country.

Before his election to Congress, Katko served for more than 15 years as a federal prosecutor in Syracuse for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of New York. In that role, he helped form the Syracuse Gang Violence Task Force, which according to his website, led to the prosecution of gang members and a significant drop in Syracuse’s violent crime rate.

During the election cycle, Katko endorsed neither Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump nor Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for president, saying he was disappointed with both candidates.

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