So fellow New York State friends (and enemies, if you're there!): it is primary day today for Congressional races. First of all, here in NY-24 we are lucky to have two sharp, qualified candidates who would be huge, massive--I'm honestly lacking superlatives for what a big gap this is--improvements over John Katko: so no matter who you choose to vote for today, if your candidate doesn't win today, I implore you to dust yourself off, pour a glass of your preferred drink, regroup, and get to work tomorrow electing the other.
I am supporting Dana Balter today. Balter entered this race early as a relative unknown and got immediately to work building up grassroots support. She's presented a detailed progressive agenda that will help reverse the negative trends in New York exacerbated by things like the John Katko tax cut that seemed carved perfectly people to benefit those in rich suburbs of large cities of red states--you know, the exact opposite of Syracuse.
Balter also doesn't have the baggage stemming from a Mayoral campaign which still has some fresh wounds here in the city. I'm always, always hesitant to use "electability" as a key aspect of my voting choice (that bumper sticker says "elect ability", right?) But in order to beat Katko, the candidate facing him is going to need to consolidate support in the city, and Perez Williams was, very recently, totally unable to do that. Colleen Deacon got 58.6% of the vote within the city of Syracuse in 2016 on her way to getting trounced in the election. Hillary Clinton got 70.3% within the city. Granted, Perez Williams was running against a candidate with much more appeal within the city, but she still is running a race where she'll need to pull in 65% of the vote in a city that she failed to reach 40% in a mayoral election the year before. It's hard to see how those numbers are there.
As a supporter of Perez Williams in 2017, I understand fully how much of that baggage came from attacks on her that were, uh, to say politely, gender-unfriendly and racially charged. Instead of policy, the biggest theme of the campaign sadly turned into her being "difficult" contrasted with Walsh's likeability. But I will also say that losing badly, and taking that as a sign to run for higher office only three months later really plays into some of those criticisms of her.
Perhaps more importantly, the decision by the DCCC to recruit and financially support Perez Williams really plays into the narrative that they have become this aloof, elitist branch that fails to get into the trenches and talk to the activists doing the work. And I'm not just talking about progressive, college kid-type activists either: Balter consolidated the support of each of the county parties. If the DCCC had bothered to talk to people, they'd have found that genuine enthusiasm for Balter within the local party. They'd not have gotten spooked by Balter's poor 4Q (2017) fundraising numbers, when she was building momentum after being a total unknown. Which, speaking of Fundraising: the biggest reason for the DCCC wanting an alternative to Balter seemed to be those poor fundrasing numbers, but Balter has outraised Perez Williams overall, and by an overwhelming amount among donors within the district.
So today, send a message to the DCCC that these campaigns are won on the ground, not with a checkbook. And then, even more importantly, send a message to John Katko and the local Republican establishment that they are responsible to the residents of Central New York, not their patrons on the Florida coast.