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Colleen Deacon beats two opponents to win primary in 24th Congressional District

Tom Magnarelli's story on Eric Kingson and Steve Williams on primary night

Colleen Deacon, a single mother and former staffer for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), will be the Democratic nominee in the race for the 24th Congressional District.

Deacon handily beat her competitors, Syracuse attorney Steve Williams and Syracuse University professor Eric Kingson, by winning more than 48 percent of the vote in the primary election. Deacon had support from Gillibrand and other Democratic bigwigs, as well as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as the establishment party pick to face freshman Republican Rep. John Katko.

And she says she’s ready to take on the incumbent.

“When he ran his campaign, he said his number one priority was to get jobs to this reason. But in reality he’s done anything but nothing to focus on jobs in this region. That’s why this campaign is so important and this election year is so important to everyone in this district and this room,” Deacon said.

Political pundits predict this will be one of the most contested races in the country come November -- a seat that has flip-flopped between Democrats and Republicans for almost a decade. And Deacon expects she’ll need to raise at least $1 million to be competitive.

“I mean you can already see that the RNC has already bought $1.5 million of airtime for this race in the October-November timeline. So I mean we’ll see what they do, and we’ll run a good campaign. Focus on the issues and focus on talking to voters.”

The 24th District includes all of Onondaga, Wayne and Cayuga Counties, and a portion of Oswego County.

Deacon's two opponents in the race say they are ready to offer their support to her as she takes on Katko in November.

Syracuse University professor Eric Kingson lost to Deacon by less than 2,000 votes. He said he’s happy to hear Deacon say she wants to protect Social Security.

"One, the benefits are hugely important, it's a life insurance," Kingson said. "Two, because we're losing something in our civilization. We're losing a kind of connection among us, a sense that we have a  responsibility to our neighbor. We’re living in a remarkably disrespectful time, money is running our politics, money is hemorrhaging up to the highest income people.”

Kingson said he is willing to help her win against Katko. His biggest issue with Katko is that the congressman won’t formally renounce presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“It’s past the line of decency, nobody should be supporting him as politicians. John has failed. He’s absolutely failed his moral responsibility as a leader and I would have taken him to task on that.”

Syracuse attorney Steve Williams came in third and said he tried to run a grassroots campaign that just did not work.

“You know I spoke with folks in D.C. and those big organizations and I really didn’t want any part of that because I wanted to be free to say what I thought was right and was on my mind and that’s what I did throughout this campaign.”

Speaking at his election night watch party, Williams said despite the loss, he is ready to get behind Deacon.

"I'm going to rally behind her, I'm going to try to get these folks here to rally behind her," Williams said. "I think she'll make an excellent congresswoman. This is the year to flip the seat and I think it can be done."

According to unofficial election results, only about eight percent of active registered Democrats in the 24th Congressional District voted in Tuesday’s primary.