Politics

John Katko raises $488K, outpaces potential Democratic, GOP challengers

As U.S. Rep. John Katko faces the possibility of challenges on multiple fronts, he continues to raise large sums of money and has more in the bank than any potential foe. 

Katko, R-Camillus, raised $488,743 in the October quarterly filing period, which runs from July 1 through Sept. 30. It is the most he has raised in a quarter this year and a personal third-quarter record for a non-election year. 

Katko raised $241,378 from individuals and $222,500 from political action committees and other campaigns. He also received $24,862 from joint fundraising committees. 

The campaign spent $143,568 and closed with a balance of $1.2 million — a significant war chest before what’s expected to be a fight-filled year for Katko. 

The four-term Republican congressman is facing a backlash within his own party over his support for former President Donald Trump’s impeachment. Trump has pledged to support a primary opponent and some within the local GOP and Conservative Party are interested in an alternative. Other GOP leaders continue to support Katko, but it’s not enough to avoid a possible primary battle in 2022. 

Redistricting will play a role in determining who Katko could face in a GOP primary. One possibility is that he will wind up in the same district as U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, a Utica-area Republican. Trump has already signaled that if given that choice, he would support Tenney over Katko. 

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Despite opposition from the pro-Trump wing of the GOP, Katko continues to have the support of House Republican leaders. One of Katko’s major donors, according to his recent filing, was House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican. Through Scalise’s campaign committee and Eye of the Tiger PAC, Katko received $14,000. 

Take Back the House 2022, a joint fundraising committee led by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, transferred $24,862 to Katko’s campaign. That’s significant because Trump has demanded that House GOP leaders cut off Katko from the fundraising committee. 

While Katko is looking ahead to 2022, he is also helping candidates in local elections. His previous filing showed that his campaign donated $13,500 to 17 local candidates. According to his most recent report, he gave $8,500 to local candidates or committees. The Onondaga County Republican Committee received $5,000 and the Oswego County Republican Committee got $1,000. Katko for Congress also contributed $1,000 to Friends of Knapp, Onondaga County Legislature Chairman David Knapp’s campaign. 

Katko’s campaign gave $500 donations to three candidates: Julie Abbott Kenan, an Onondaga County legislator; Josh Davis, a candidate for Syracuse Common Council; and Tim Lattimore, who is running for Auburn City Council. 

Democrats

Two Democrats, Francis Conole and Steven Holden, filed their first fundraising reports since launching their bids to unseat Katko over the summer. 

Conole, a U.S. Navy veteran who sought the Democratic nomination in the 24th Congressional District in 2020, raised $213,134 in the third quarter. All but $5,000 of his total receipts came from individuals. The exception: Hold the House, a PAC launched by former Congressman Mike Honda, donated $5,000 to Conole’s campaign. 

Conole, D-Syracuse, spent $33,963 and has $181,365 in the bank. 

Holden, an Army veteran who lives in Camillus, reported receipts totaling $44,122. Most of his money came from his own pocket — he gave $28,500 to support his campaign, records show. He received $14,139 from individual donors and $1,483 from PACs and other committees. 

Holden’s campaign spent $11,884 and has $32,237 cash on hand. 

Republicans

Aside from Katko, there are two other Republicans in the race. John Murtari, a Lyons Republican, loaned his campaign $2,025 and spent $520. He has $1,505 cash on hand. 

Timothy Ko, a Fayetteville Republican, did not file an October quarterly report. He is a newcomer to the race. His statement of candidacy was filed on Oct. 7 after the end of the third quarter. 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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