The first Democratic challenger to central New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) has joined the race.
Anne Messenger, a former small business owner and special education teacher from Manlius, is not your typical congressional candidate. She's 70 years old and has never held public office before. But at a campaign kickoff in Syracuse Tuesday, supporters like Gwyn Mannion said Messenger's resume was written for this job.
"Because if you know Anne, she has been working her whole life for this job," Mannion said. "I know it."
Messenger has held leadership roles in multiple community organizations like the Syracuse Stage, Onondaga Community College and the Central New York Community Foundation. It's the relationships Messenger formed in those experiences that she says ultimately encouraged her to run, and who she says are backing her now.
"I didn't want to run for Congress," Messenger said. "Somebody called me out of the blue and kind of blew me away. And as I thought about it, and I looked around here in central New York and I looked at what's going on in Congress, I'm thinking - wait a minute, we could be way better represented. I'm going to do this."
The Democrat never mentioned Katko by name in her campaign announcement but she did cite his record of voting with President Donald Trump's administration and Republican agenda in Washington as a key reason for her candidacy.
"I will stand up to this dangerous, divisive, disastrous administration and not vote with the Trump White House 92 percent of the time," Messenger said.
If elected, Messenger says she will fight to fix the Affordable Care Act rather than replace it, protect funding for Planned Parenthood and support public education.
The 24th Congressional District covers all of Onondaga, Cayuga and Wayne counties and the western part of Oswego County.