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EMILY’s List Latest to Back Katko Challenger

After fractious primary, Democrat-aligned groups coalescing behind Dana Balter in ‘key’ fight against GOP incumbent

Democrat-aligned groups are coalescing behind the challenge to Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., in upstate New York's 24th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Democrat-aligned groups are coalescing behind the challenge to Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., in upstate New York's 24th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

EMILY’s list on Friday endorsed Dana Balter, Rep. John Katko’s challenger in upstate New York 24th District seat, the latest Democrat-aligned group to throw their weight behind her after months of internal party squabbles threatened to derail efforts to flip the seat. 

Balter, a professor and activist, appealed to the group because of her work in special education and advocacy on behalf of her younger brother, Jonathan, who has cognitive disabilities, EMILY’s list president Stephanie Schriock said in a statement. 

Schriock also referred to Balter’s 8-year struggle recovering from a severe concussion that she suffered when she fell and hit her head in 2004.


“Dana knows firsthand how important access to affordable, quality health care is, and her own experience facing the fear and uncertainty that can come from having a preexisting condition led Dana to want to make sure others don’t have to face the same concerns,” Schriock said in a statement.

Balter supports establishing a Medicare-for-all system, a single-payer program that would eliminate the need for private health insurance.

EMILY’s List’s endorsement follows the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s decision earlier this month to add Balter to its Red to Blue program. The initiative supports Democratic challengers in races against Republican incumbents. Balter has also been endorsed by the Indivisible movement, Democracy for America and several other progressive organizations. 

The DCCC named Balter to the program more than a month after she defeated the committee’s first choice, primary opponent Juanita Perez Williams, by 25 points in June.

As one of the 25 districts held by Republicans that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016, the district is one of the Democrats’ top priorities. But the contest has stoked Democratic divisions, including a backlash against the DCCC’s involvement in recruiting Perez Williams after local Democrats had already coalesced around Balter. 

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Likely Republican.

Republicans are confident that Katko is a strong incumbent. He was first elected in 2014 and re-elected two years ago. In both contests, the news site points out, he defeated his Democratic opponents by at least 20 points.

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