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Conole, Williams win 22nd Congressional District primaries

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Conole/Williams campaigns
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Democrat Francis Conole, left, and Republican Brandon Williams will face off in November for the newly redrawn 22nd Congressional District seat

Central New York’s newly drawn congressional district seat will be up for grabs in November. And primaries for the 22nd district led to some surprises.

Conservative Republicans in central New York rallied around a political novice on primary day, in an upset victory. Brandon Williams, a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump, soundly beat the GOP designated nominee Steve Wells.

Williams won 58% of the vote in stunning fashion. He was strong in each of the four counties that make up the new 22nd district, winning nearly 60% in Oneida County alone.

In an acceptance speech, Williams called it an “impressive win that no one expected” and told supporters that their votes marked the beginning of a change that’s coming to America.

Williams, who considers himself a political outsider, mostly self-funded his campaign, and faced an onslaught of cash from the Republican Congressional Leadership Fund in the days leading up to the rare August primary.

Williams, who served in the Navy in the early 90s, owns a truffle farm in Cayuga County and is a tech entrepreneur.

On the Democratic side in the 22nd congressional district primary, Francis Conole is declaring victory.

The central New York native and Iraq War veteran entered the Saltine Warrior Sports Pub to cheers of victory from his supporters Tuesday night, but he said his work is far from done.

"We're going to keep moving,” said Conole. “We've been doing this for a year now. We've been going 90 miles per hour. As I said, this has been a campaign of determination and grit."

Going into the primary vote, Conole was widely considered the frontrunner, taking a significant fundraising lead and racking up a number of endorsements, including from the Onondaga and Oneida Democratic Committees.

But the primary race was not a runaway, with Conole less than 1,000 votes ahead of DeWitt Town Councilor Sarah Klee Hood. Conole praised his three Democratic opponents Tuesday night, and he took aim at GOP nominee Brandon Williams.

"He is extreme,” said Conole. “He's extreme on his policies and his positions. And if I've heard anything, especially here in Central New York, it's that Americans are so tired of the extremes."

Conole said in the weeks ahead, he’s going to focus on reaching out to voters and spreading his message that he is fighting for working families.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.
Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.