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Primary day: Republicans and Democrats in central NY choose congressional candidates

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News File Photo
A polling place in Syracuse during New York's presidential primary in April.

Tuesday is primary day in New York State and central New York Republicans and Democrats can vote in two competitive congressional primaries. The two moderately leaning districts could see more far-left and far-right candidates in November.

Dustin Czarny, the commissioner of elections for the Democrats in Onondaga County, was happy with the 40 percent Democratic turnout in the presidential primary in April.

"For the most part, where you voted in April is where you'll vote at in June," Czarny said.

He said he would love to see that turnout for Tuesday's primary but doubts it will happen, despite the significance of the primary.

“Down ticket races are just as important, if not more important," Czarny said. "The decisions that are made by your local representatives are going to affect you much greater on an everyday basis than the presidential office might. It’s incredibly important that you get informed, decide which of the candidates you support and go out and support them.”

Credit house.gov
New York's 24th Congressional District

The 24th Congressional District, which includes the cities of Syracuse and Oswego, is a big swing district and one of the most competitive in the country. Two of the three Democrats running in the primary have some hefty endorsements -- presidential candidate and progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders is for Eric Kingson; Sen. Charles Schumer is for Colleen Deacon. Syracuse attorney Steve Williams is also running.

Having a Democratic primary in this district is unusual.

"We haven’t had a congressional primary for four cycles," Czarny said. "While all three candidates are out there working very hard, Onondaga County citizens aren't used to this type of primary. We don't have them very often. I think the last June primary we had was in 2012 and that was on the Republican side."

The winner will face incumbent Republican Rep. John Katko, who is more moderate than some of his House Republican colleagues.

Rep. Richard Hanna of the 22nd District is another moderate Republican but he’s retiring.

Credit house.gov
New York's 22nd Congressional District

Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, a self-described conservative Republican with an “A” rating from the NRA, will try again to win the district after to losing to Hanna by about 2,000 votes in the 2014 primary.
Hanna has endorsed businessman Steve Wells for his seat. Hanna said someone too conservative could lose to Democrat Kim Myers in the fall. Binghamton teacher George Phillips is also running.

The 22nd District includes all or part of eight counties in central New York and the Southern Tier.

The polls in upstate New York are open from noon until 9 p.m.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.