Dana Balter, a professor strongly backed by local activists, is projected to win the Democratic primary to face Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoBipartisan group demands House prioritize communities of color in coronavirus relief bill Expanding tax credit for businesses retaining workers gains bipartisan support States plead for cybersecurity funds as hacking threat surges MORE (R-N.Y.) in November.
The Associated Press called the race for Balter at 10:18 p.m.
Balter, a progressive activist who teaches at Syracuse University, defeated former U.S. Navy officer Juanita Perez Williams in Tuesday’s primary. She will now go on to face Katko in one of Democrats’ top targeted races this cycle.
While Democrats believe this is a winnable race, they were divided over who would be the best nominee to take back the seat and get them closer to winning back the House majority. Those difference pitted local and national Democrats against each other as they clashed over their preferences.
Balter had shored up support from four local Democratic county committees. Yet weeks before the May filing deadline, national Democrats recruited Perez Williams into the race. The former prosecutor unsuccessfully ran for Syracuse mayor last year.
Local Democratic leaders accused the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) of meddling in the primary.
While it’s not an official endorsement, the DCCC added Perez Williams to its “Red to Blue” program, which offers financial and organizational support. And the committee helped her gather petition signatures to get on the ballot.
The primary in the 24th District is the latest example of national Democrats looking to navigate crowded primaries in an election cycle where there’s a groundswell of energy.
Katko has represented his upstate swing seat since 2015. Even though Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE carried the district by more than 3 points in 2016, Cook Political Report rates the seat as likely Republican.