Balter concedes, Katko goes to DC for 4th term

Above in a Nov. 3 photo provided by his campaign, U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-Camillus, shows the sign of the times by greeting a supporter.

SYRACUSE — The race to represent the western half of Oswego County has concluded after a bitter four-year fight.

U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-Camillus, will return to Washington for a fourth term after Democrat Dana Balter offered her concession over the weekend.

It was a rematch of the 2018 election for New York’s 24th Congressional District, which consists of the cities of Oswego and Fulton and adjacent towns, as well as Cayuga, Wayne and Onondaga counties.

“Now, more than ever, our nation needs members of Congress willing to work across the aisle to deliver,” Katko said, continuing the theme of bipartisanship that formed the backbone of his campaign. “We have a tremendous amount of work to do.  At the forefront, addressing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and working to rebuild our economy.”

After a five-point loss two years ago, Balter and supporters believed this was a Democrat’s best shot to knock Katko out of a seat that leans statistically and demographically left. On election night, Katko slammed the door on that possibility by opening up a massive lead: he tallied 155,000 votes to 100,000 Balter votes cast via in-person voting. After several days of counting mail ballots (delayed both by New York election law prohibiting the opening of mail ballots before Nov. 10 and COVID-19 precautions and restrictions), it became clear that even with ballots breaking significantly for Balter there simply would not be enough votes to make up the required ground.

“The current absentee ballot count makes it clear that our campaign does not have a path forward,” Balter said. "I congratulate Congressman Katko on his victory and hope that in his next term, he will advocate for policies that will help working families in this district."

The tale of the tape in Oswego County reflected election results around the rest of NY-24 albeit on a more severe scale tipped to the GOP. On Election Day, Katko won 66 percent of the vote to Balter’s 29 percent (17,012 ballots to 7,476 ballots). As cited above, Katko’s day-of voting across the district ratio ran at roughly 60 percent.

Balter narrowly picked up some ground through Oswego County mail-in votes, winning 57 percent to Katko’s 36 percent. In terms of raw vote count, however, Balter needed to run up that advantage much more than she was ultimately able: in Oswego County, she cut into Katko’s E-Day lead by a little more than 1,100 votes. It was a drop in the proverbial bucket when Balter needed a tidal wave.

Oswego County in total (day-of votes plus mail-in votes) was a big win for Katko. His 19,125 votes across the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party lines ran 29 percentage points ahead of Balter’s 10,764 votes. Working Families Party candidate Steven Williams received 1,495 votes.

According to Oswego County Board of Elections officials (also the source for all results cited), the board received 7,060 requests for mail-in ballots from NY-24 voters. Of those, 6,112 were returned. Officials said some affidavit ballots remain to be added to the final vote totals but it remains mathematically impossible for the NY-24 results to change in a meaningful way. Over the four counties of the district, officials said 76,441 mail-in ballots were distributed to applicants.

Katko was first elected in 2014, defeating Democrat incumbent Dan Maffei.

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