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Katko, Deacon bicker over bipartisanship in last debate

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News Channel 9
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Democrat Colleen Deacon and Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) in their final debate on News Channel Nine.

Bipartisanship was once again a key focus in the last debate between the two candidates running in the 24th Congressional District. Incumbent Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) and his Democratic challenger Colleen Deacon bickered in a News Channel 9 debate Sunday about who would ultimately be more independent voice for the district in congress.

Deacon hit Katko for voting in line with Republican lawmakers 81 percent of the time as reviewed by the nonpartisan Congressional Quarterly, such as breaking his 2014 campaign promise not to vote for defunding Planned Parenthood. She also criticized Katko for the campaign donations he's taking from special interest groups. But Katko said he frequently works with both parties.

"I've had 15 bills pass the House of Representatives," Katko said. "My predecessor had zero in four years. All 15 bills had primary Democrats cosponsors. I had six bills passed into law by a Democratic president, that's more than any freshman congressman in more than two decades and perhaps much longer. I'm roundly considered one of the most independent members in all of Congress. I've routinely stood up to my party and routinely stood up for what is right for the people in this district."

Katko fired back at Deacon saying she has not named a single issue where she would break with Democrats in Washington, D.C., if she were elected. But the former staffer of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said she has years of bipartisan work under her belt.

"Since I've been working on the ground here for the last 12 years, I fight for the people of this district," Deacon said. "That is my only concern are what the issues are, what the concerns are and what the people of this district send me to Congress to do. I've worked with Republican mayors, I've worked with conservative town supervisors, I've worked with independent county executives. It didn't matter as long as we were getting things done for this district." 

The two candidates also debated about campaign finance, nuclear power, Social Security, immigration, health care and gun control.

A recent Siena College and Time Warner Cable News poll found Katko is ahead in the race by 23 points. The 24th District includes Onondaga, Cayuga and Wayne counties and the western part of Oswego County.