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24th Congressional District draws more national attention

Ryan Delaney
Republican Congressional candidate John Katko, left, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speak to reporters in Auburn Sunday.

Some powerful Washington politicians are visiting central New York, stumping for their chosen candidates for the 24th Congressional District, in the final weeks of the campaign season.

It was Republican John Katko's turn first. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) headlined a $75-a-plate fundraising brunch in Auburn Sunday in support of Katko. McCarthy and Katko then toured the Seward House, once home to Abraham Lincoln's secretary of state William Seward.

McCarthy told reporters he's donated the maximum amount allowed to Katko, $2,600, who is trying to unseat incumbent Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse).

The second-most-powerful member of the House of Representatives, McCarthy sees potential for Republicans to strengthen their majority in the House here in upstate New York.

"New York is going to be a very strong delegation in Congress," he predicted. "And they're going to be in the majority."

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

McCarthy also stumped at rally for Elise Stefanik, the GOP candidate for the 21st Congressional District, in northern New York, over the weekend. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made a swing through upstate New York last month.

Katko is a former well-regarded federal prosecutor. McCarthy says it was during that two decade career for the Justice Department that he first heard of Katko.

"We’ll have the individual that has proven he can take the facts in a fair manor, lay a persuasive case out before the jury and get the answer that no one else has been able to do, to defend those he doesn’t even know," he said.

Asked by a reporter his thoughts of Mr. Seward, McCarthy said he respected Seward's ability to work with former political adversaries and he saw similar characteristics in Katko.

"One that listens, but has the courage to lead. One that’s fair in the process," he said.

Both McCarthy and Boehner's appearances for Katko were low-key, with no public rallies. But it will be different Monday afternoon for Maffei. 

Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to fly to Hancock Airport early in the afternoon to hold a public rally in support of the fellow Democrat. The hanger can fit upwards of a thousand people.

Maffei holds a small lead over Katko in polls, but a large fundraising lead with just over two weeks before Election Day.