Democrat promises primary challenge to Dana Balter

Feb 26, 2018

Two Democrats running in the 24th Congressional District are dropping out after Syracuse University professor Dana Balter secured endorsements from all four of the district's county Democratic committees, but one candidate is pledging to stay in the race.

Bill Bass says he will continue campaigning for the ticket until the primary in June. He is originally from Herkimer County and spent the last six years in Saudi Arabia working in environmental protection for an oil company before moving to Syracuse last year.

Bass was unable to participate in the forum that took place before Wayne, Oswego and Cayuga county Democrats voted for a nominee. Cayuga County Democratic Chair Ian Phillips said Bass had "a lack of campaign infrastructure."

"I felt I did not get a fair chance to get my message out to the committee members and the public and so I will continue in my fight until my message is heard throughout the district," Bass said. "I think it’s important that we get all of the members of the Democratic Party involved in this process."

Chair of the Onondaga County Democratic Committee Mark English said Bass was welcome at everything they did. But English said none of the more than 200 Democrats present at the committee's designation meeting this weekend nominated Bass before the vote was taken. 

Democratic candidate Scott Comegys of Wayne County, who left the race over the weekend, said he will support Balter. Anne Messenger of Malius dropped out Monday, but she did not go so far as to endorse Balter. 

“It is clear that the NY24th Democratic party has selected Dana Balter as the party’s designee to take on Representative John Katko, and I am therefore ending my campaign for US Congress,” Messenger said in a statement. "I will not split the party further and am taking myself out of the primary field for Dana so she can take on the Congressman."

Bass said staying in the race will actually improve the Democrats' chances of unseating Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) this fall. 

"It gets more people involved, more people excited and gets more people to the polls in June and November and that’s what we are going to need to win this election," Bass said. 

English said while party chairs and committees always worry about primaries, it's fine that Bass is continuing his race. 

"Good luck to Mr. Bass," English said.