At the final debate of the 24th Congressional District race, Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko and Democratic challenger Dana Balter faced questions about the effect of the presidential election on their contest.
Hours before the NewsChannel 9 debate Sunday, a new Siena College/Syracuse.com poll found Balter, D-Syracuse, and Katko, R-Camillus, are tied at 45%. The same poll showed that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden continues to hold a double-digit lead (14 points) over GOP President Donald Trump.
Nearly all of Balter’s supporters are also voting for Biden, according to the poll. But 14% of people who support Biden say they’re voting for Katko — a fact noted by the GOP congressman during the debate.
Presidential politics have played a major role in the 24th district race. Balter has tied Katko to Trump in some of her TV ads. She’s also highlighted Biden’s endorsement of her campaign and pledged to work with the former vice president on health care and taxes. Katko has countered with ads using Biden’s opposition to Medicare for All against Balter, who is a proponent of universal health care.
Dan Cummings, who moderated the debate, asked the candidates if they thought the election should be a referendum on Trump. Balter thinks that’s up to voters.
“That’s what they get to do when they show up to the ballot box or use mail-in voting is decide what matters to them, and part of that is presidential leadership,” she said. “There’s no doubt, as I said, Donald Trump is the most dangerous and corrupt president of our lifetime and is making us less safe with every passing week. And it says a lot about the congressman’s judgment that he chooses to endorse him.”