Local Democrats not happy with Perez Williams' last minute entry into congressional race

Apr 5, 2018

Former Syracuse mayoral candidate Juanita Perez Williams is reportedly collecting signatures to run for the central New York congressional seat currently held by Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus). The Democratic committees in Onondaga, Oswego, Cayuga and Wayne counties have already endorsed Syracuse University professor Dana Balter as their candidate, so Perez Williams would have to face her in a June primary.

That has the committee chairs angry, because they say the Washington-based Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) asked Perez Williams to run without local support. In a joint statement, the four county chairs said “the recent DCCC actions in NY24 are unfortunately just the latest example of not taking into account the work happening at the grassroots this year. From people engaged for the very first time this year, to party and elected officials we stand united behind our designated nominee Dana Balter and against the DC meddling that has hampered far too many races thus far.”

Katko says he’s prepared for any opponent.

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) is being challenged by Democrat Dana Balter
Credit U.S. House of Representatives/Julio Urrutia

“Whomever the democratic nominee is, I’m happy to have the race, happy to have the debates, happy to discuss the issues, but most importantly I’ll be happy for them to talk about my record and what I’ve done in office, because I don’t want to run from my record, I want to run to it,” said Katko.

Perez Williams lost the race for Syracuse mayor to Ben Walsh in 2016. She was reportedly approached by the DCCC after that race to run against Katko, but Perez Williams said no. She still has not made an official campaign announcement, but has until April 12 to gather enough signatures to get on the June primary ballot. Bill Bass is another Democrat planning to challenge Balter in the primary.