Thursday, February 4, 2016

Deadlocked: Democrats in 3 CNY counties split endorsement for Congress

AUBURN, N.Y. – Democrats from three Central New York counties gathered here Wednesday night to endorse a candidate who will take on U.S. Rep. John Katko in November.

But more than two hours and three ballots later, Democratic committee members remained deadlocked and decided to endorse two of the three candidates seeking the party's designation in the 24th Congressional District.

Colleen Deacon, 38, of Syracuse, and Steve Williams, 52, of Baldwinsville, walked out of the meeting with the joint endorsement from the Democratic committees in Cayuga, Oswego and Wayne counties, officials said.

Syracuse University professor Eric Kingson, 69, of Manlius, finished third, but committee officials declined to release any vote totals.

Ian Phillips, the Cayuga County Democratic chairman, said committee members from the three counties remained deadlocked between Deacon and Williams after the third ballot. So the committee decided to endorse both candidates.

"We are endorsing two candidates that we feel strongly will be able to take on and defeat John Katko in the fall," Phillips said in an interview. "They both have extremely strong credentials. Either one of them will be well-situated."

All three candidates had a chance to make their pitch to committee members and answers questions at a public forum before the vote at the Hilton Garden Inn in Auburn.

After the meeting, Auburn Mayor Michael Quill, a three-term Democrat, publicly endorsed Deacon.

The joint endorsement leaves it to the Onondaga County Democratic Committee to break the tie or go with Kingson. 

The Onondaga County committee, the largest in the four-county 24th Congressional District, will meet Feb. 11 to designate a candidate.

Regardless of the party designation, Deacon, Williams and Kingson have indicated they intend to stay in the race to force a primary. The New York congressional primary is June 28.

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