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Politics and Government
Coverage of central and northern New York's congressional races, including the primary races and the general election.Races covered include the 24th Congressional District, currently held by Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), who is running for reelection; the 22nd Congressional District, currently held by Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld), who is retiring; and the 21st Congressional District, currently held by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro).

Katko not attending Republican convention, still hasn't endorsed Trump

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Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus)

As the Republican National Convention gets underway this week in Cleveland, one high-profile central New York Republican will be watching from afar.  Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) who is running for reelection in a highly competitive central New York district, continues to distance himself from the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

Katko will be watching, but won’t going to the convention that is expected to anoint Donald Trump the Republican candidate for president.

“Between my family and meetings I have to catch up on in the district an throughout the area, it’s time better spent that way,” said Katko.

He is among party members who haven’t warmed up to Trump, and has said several times that he’s concerned about the tone and comments from Trump from the start. Katko says the only way Trump gets his endorsement, he has to tone down the divisive rhetoric.

“Talk about the issues, talk about the plan for moving forward, talk about uniting the country , talk about the plans for trying to bridge a growing  divide between law enforcement who risk their lives every day,” said Katko. “Trying to figure out how we’re going to stop the menace of a beast ISIS, that’s grown during the Obama administration. That’s what I want to hear about.”

In the meantime, there are concerns from party leadership that the Trump candidacy will hurt potentially vulnerable Republicans down the ballot, like Katko, who is finishing up his first term in a district that’s flip-flopped between Democrats and Republicans the past five races.  Already the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has started running ads connecting Katko to Trump.

But Katko says he’s not concerned about the ads.

“If this campaign is about nothing other than my record, I’ll be perfectly happy,” said Katko. “Because that’s the way it should be judged.  And trying to tie it to someone else you‘re nothing like, that’s not doing anybody any justice.”

The 24th Congressional District, that includes all of Onondaga, Cayuga and Wayne Counties, and the western part of Oswego County, is one of the most competitive in the nation.  And Katko admits he’s not sure how it all will play out.

“The bottom line is I have great faith in the people of our district,” he said. “They’re very intelligent.  They take their time, they see through the garbage of the negative ads, and they judge people for what they’ve done.  And all I ask is they judge what I’ve done.  And if you don’t like what I’ve done, I respect that.”

Katko faces Democrat Colleen Deacon of Syracuse in the general election.