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Politics and Government

Conole endorsed by Onondaga County Democrats in congressional race

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WRVO Public Media

Francis Conole prides himself on his Syracuse roots and his decades of experience in the military. So in August, when he decided to run against Republican Rep. John Katko for the newly drawn 22nd Congressional District, he emphasized service as the foundation of his campaign.

“I made the decision to run because I believe it's going to take real leadership and commitment to address these challenges, and I've spent my life doing that and I'm committed to fighting for the hard-working people in central New York,” said Conole.

Katko has since decided not to run, but several of Conole’s fellow Democrats have chosen to throw their hats into the ring alongside the veteran.

While there are numerous candidates running against Conole, he received probably one of the most significant endorsements to date: that of the Onondaga County Democratic Committee.

“I think they know that I'm someone who has been fighting hard and was ready to take on the tough fight,” he said.

Conole won their endorsement by a landslide with nearly 80% of the vote from committee members.

“Earning the support of the committee by such a large margin, I think was a real testament to the strength of our campaign and the hard work that we've been doing,” he said.

However, this decision didn’t come without contention. Conole was one of three Democratic candidates for Congress recognized by the committee despite several others launching campaigns.

This has raised questions among local political circles about the fairness of the committee’s selection process, but Conole said the committee was just following the rules that they’d set and had articulated to all of the candidates.

“They made the decision to move forward with the rules that they had set forth and communicated early in their timelines,” he said.

Two other Democratic candidates, Sarah Klee Hood, and Steven Holden, both said they plan to continue their campaigns and try to get on the June primary ballot.

The newly drawn district is favored heavily towards Democrats as it encompasses the cities of Syracuse and Ithaca. And since Katko, who would be the incumbent, decided not to run for reelection, it paves the way for a Democrat, like Conole, to take that seat.