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Katko, Maffei trade blows on campaign ads, Maffei's record

New Channel 9 WSYR
Republican candidate John Katko (far right), and Democrat incumbent Dan Maffei hold their final debate at WSYR in Syracuse.

Democrat Dan Maffei and Republican John Katko met for their sixth and final debate of a race that has been contentious and full of attacks.

The News Channel 9 debate Sunday night saw both candidates make accusations, beginning with the race's many negative campaign ads and the fundraising needed to pay for them. The moderator asked both candidates whether or not they would need to answer to those who donated to their campaigns from outside the 24th Congressional District.

Katko pointed out that Maffei has had more money to spend in this race.

"I'm an independent person," Katko said. "And I will always remain that. You know what, in two years, if you think differently of me, that's your right to vote me out. But the fact remains that Mr. Maffei outspent me three-to-one with his own money. Forget about the outside money, the money he raised all came from out of this district, more than 80 percent of it. More than 80 percent of mine came from the district."

Maffei countered that outside groups bought campaign ads on Katko's behalf said that campaign finance reform is needed.

"I don't like this system, but I am not beholden to anybody except the voters of this district and I want to be very clear about that," Maffei said. "He doesn't count any of this money from Washington, any of the over $2 million in ads. Look, this is a bad system. I don't like it, I don't think John likes it, and I don't think the viewers like it. We need to change that system."

Accusations were also made about Maffei's work while in Congress. Katko said in Maffei's two terms in the House of Representatives, he has not been very productive.

"Both times he has not had a bill of substance passed in either one," Katko said. "He's 0-for-25, except for an obscure amendment to a credit card act. A fellow freshman congressman from this... state, Congressman (Sean Patrick) Maloney, has had two bills passed. Mr. Maffei has not gotten anything done."

Maffei said that he's been working hard in Congress with Republicans and Democrats alike.

"We need to create jobs," Maffei said. "We need to focus on that, not worry about statistics, not worry about who gets the credit. I work every day with Chuck Schumer, with Kirsten Gillibrand, with Richard Hanna, with Joanie Mahoney. I don't care who gets the credit, I just care who gets jobs in central New York."

A Siena College/Syracuse Post-Standard poll conducted nearly a week ago showed Katko with a 10-point lead in the race, and national political analysts have declared the race between Katko and Maffei a toss-up.

The 24th Congressional District contains all or part of four counties, including Onondaga, Wayne, Cayuga and Oswego Counties.