2014 election

Joanna Richards / WRVO file photo

When voters go to the polls in the 116th Assembly District, it will be a referendum on Democratic incumbent Addie Russell who is running for her fourth term.

The so-called River District covers western Jefferson County and northern St. Lawrence County. Republican challenger John Byrne and Conservative candidate Russell Finley say Russell's yes vote on the controversial SAFE Act shows her views conflict with those she represents. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Heading into the last weekend before election day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is crossing upstate New York encouraging Democrats to get out the vote. His first stop was a rally in Syracuse.

"We vote, we win," Cuomo said. "We vote when we work and we knock on doors and we make phone calls... We do it 24 hours a day and we out work the other side."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

With less than a week to go until Election Day, candidates in one of the highest profile races in central New York are in the midst of a debate blitz. Democrat incumbent Dan Maffei and his Republican challenger, John Katko, are both running to represent the 24th Congressional District, and outlined their stands at the Thursday Morning Roundtable in DeWitt.

The candidates offered up views on foreign policy to kick off the latest debate, specifically whether American troops should be used to deal with the advancement of ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, in the Middle East.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

An experimental public campaign finance system for the state comptroller’s race has fizzled, after the lone candidate who applied for the program failed to meet the minimum threshold to obtain public monies.

The pilot public campaign financing program was limited to just the state comptroller’s race as part of a state budget deal.

It was widely condemned at the time by reform groups as fatally flawed. Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group called it cynical.

John Katko for Congress

As WRVO profiles congressional races in central and northern New York this week, we turn to the 24th Congressional District. It features a well-known Democrat who has struggled to hold onto the office, and a political neophyte. Today, we profile John Katko.

When John Katko decided to quit his job as a federal prosecutor in January to run for Congress, his sister was surprised.

"I’m like really, are you serious,” Cindy Hoyne said. “He’s like yeah. He’s not your typical politician; I think that’s what floored me the most.”


It’s time for the 2014 midterm elections. Political Junkie Ken Rudin takes a look at some of the more competitive races around the nation. 

We start off with Republican Vin Weber and Democrat Anna Greenberg laying out what’s at stake on November 4th, and what it might mean for the final two years of the Obama presidency.

citizenactionny / via Flickr

The race for attorney general is the closest of all the statewide contests. Democrat Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says he wants another four years to continue what he says have been numerous successes, while his Republican opponent, John Cahill, says the incumbent has not been aggressive enough and is too cozy with the political establishment in Albany.  

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

As WRVO profiles congressional races in central and northern New York this week, we turn to the 24th Congressional District. It features a well-known Democrat who has struggled to hold onto the office, and a political neophyte. We begin first with our profile of the incumbent, Rep. Dan Maffei.

Maffei has spent the better part of the last decade running for Congress. He’s lost, won, lost, won and now, at 46 years old, he’s running for re-election.

David Sommerstein/NCPR

This week, WRVO is profiling candidates for Congress in central and northern New York. Today we take a look at Elise Stefanik, the Republican running for the open seat in 21st district in the North Country.

Stefanik hopes to return the North Country’s seat in Congress to the Republican side of the aisle as it had been for decades before Democrat Bill Owens won three times. She would become the youngest member of the House at 30 years old.

Ryan Delaney/WRVO and Katko for Congress

Republican John Katko and incumbent Democrat Dan Maffei largely stuck to the issues in their latest television debate Tuesday night. The two candidates took stands on the economy, Common Core and U.S. military action in Syria on the half-hour debate on CNY Central.

But on the issue of what to do about the aging span of Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse, neither candidate had a definitive answer.

Katko said the options that have been presented are good ones, but he needs more information.

MemphisCVB / Flickr

With only a week left until Election Day, the Republicans running in two of upstate New York's historically more contested districts lead their Democratic opponents, according to newly released polls.

The 24th Congressional District showed the most dramatic shift in favor of the Republican. A Syracuse.com/Post-Standard/Siena College poll released early Tuesday, shows Republican John Katko with a ten point lead over Democratic incumbent Rep. Dan Maffei. Katko was down eight points when the last poll came out Sept. 21.

NYS Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment

Syracuse lawmakers want to make the state’s redistricting process less political. City councilors are calling for the defeat of a statewide proposition on the ballot next week.

Proposition One, which voters will decide on next Tuesday, would amend the state constitution for how congressional, state Senate and Assembly districts are drawn.

Ryan Delane / WRVO file photo

Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) is courting senior voters as Election Day approaches. He stood with some local seniors in Syracuse, promising to protect Social Security. He admits there are some changes that could be made to the federal program.

“But it’s not in crisis," Maffei said. "It’s a program that continues to make sure that seniors can continue to live a dignified life, even if their private savings didn't work out, or something like that. And that’s the whole point of the program that Roosevelt put in.”

Sarah Jean Condon / The Citizen

The first of a series of televised debates in the race for the 24th Congressional District kicked off last night. Democratic incumbent Dan Maffei and Republican challenger John Katko sparred in the studios of Time Warner Cable News.

NYS Democratic Party

This week, WRVO will profile candidates for Congress in central and northern New York. We begin with Aaron Woolf, the Democrat running for the open seat in 21st district in the North Country.

New York's North Country Democrats surprised everyone when they chose Aaron Woolf to try to succeed Bill Owens after he announced his retirement. Woolf is running against Republican Elise Stefanik and Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

In the waning days of the election, Republican congressional candidate John Katko is focusing on poverty.

Katko, a former federal prosecutor in Syracuse, says he’s seen up close the poverty plaguing the 23rd poorest city in the country.

"I remember many times walking up a dark stairway, trying to find a witness with one of the agents, knocking on the door, not knowing what’s going to happen when the door happens," Katko said. "But when that door opens, you see unbelievable living conditions in the city of Syracuse. Where is the outrage? Where is the concern?”

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The race to represent the 24th Congressional District has been marked largely by negative campaign ads, character attacks and a variety of powerful politicians coming to central New York. With eight days before Election Day, Democratic incumbent Dan Maffei and Republican challenger John Katko are now making their final pushes to attract prospective voters.

The national political parties have invested money and sent party leaders to stump for their candidates in the district, which has flip-flopped between going Republican and Democrat in recent elections.

Campbell Conversations

Democrat Rep. Dan Maffei and his Republican opponent John Katko appear together in their first debate of the campaign with Grant Reeher of the WRVO's Campbell Conversations. The two candidates for the 24th Congressional District have agreed to six debates before Election Day.

WRVO's debate has been broadcast in two parts. This second half focuses largely on domestic policy issues.

Campbell Conversations

The race for the 24th Congressional District has been characterized by its negative tone. WRVO's Grant Reeher moderated the first debate between Democrat incumbent Dan Maffei and Republican challenger John Katko. In the second part of the debate to be broadcast this Sunday on "The Campbell Conversations," the disagreement this time began with whether or not Katko would support the controversial budget plan designed by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan -- a question he has declined to answer in the past.

Grant Reeher: So you are not for the Ryan Budget?

John Katko: No.


For the first time in two decades, Onondaga County will have a new sheriff next January. The two men vying for the opportunity to succeed longtime sheriff Kevin Walsh, who’s retiring, are making the rounds across the county this fall, trying to convince voters to pay attention to the race.  

The candidates are Republican Gene Conway, currently the police chief in the town of Dewitt, and Democrat Toby Shelley, a 16-year veteran of the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department, who retired in 2011.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Four of the candidates running for New York state governor will be participating in a debate shown on public television and heard on public radio.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Republican Rob Astorino, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and the Libertarian Party’s Michael McDermott will appear together in an hour long debate, the only televised contest of the 2014 governor’s race.

GOP challenger Astorino had wanted a chance for the two major party candidates to hold additional debates on TV. Astorino spoke before the debate schedule was settled.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The controversial issue of hydrofracking will come up in Wednesday night’s gubernatorial debate if Howie Hawkins has anything to do with it. The Green Party candidate will be on the stage in Buffalo with Democratic incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Republican Rob Astorino and Libertarian candidate Michael McDermott.

Gun control was one of the topics the three candidates running for the North Country's open congressional seat discussed during their final debate of the election season, hosted by WWNY-TV in Watertown. Both Republican Elise Stefanik and Democrat Aaron Woolf agree the New York SAFE Act is flawed.

Woolf says there needs to be a discussion about sensible gun control, and that mental health should be looked at, starting in schools.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's running mate this fall, former Buffalo-area Rep. Kathy Hochul, says the governor's initiatives, including Start-Up NY and the establishment of ten regional economic development councils, have helped spur additional growth in all areas, particularly upstate.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Vice President Joe Biden tried to stir up some election fervor during a visit to Syracuse Monday.

Biden, a Syracuse University alumnus, made sure to point out to Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner that he was sporting an orange tie for his visit to a city he called “almost home."

"Steph, I just want you to know I got my colors on, I got my colors,” Biden joked.

Then it was down to business, stumping for Democrat Rep. Dan Maffei, who’s facing a competitive Republican opponent in former federal prosecutor John Katko in the race for the 24th Congressional District.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Unions representing law enforcement officers in central New York are throwing their support behind former federal prosecutor John Katko in his race against Democratic incumbent Rep. Dan Maffei for the 24th Congressional District seat.

Syracuse Police Benevolent Association President Jeffrey Piedmonte says the main reason he’s speaking out is because he’s irritated about Democratic attack ads that accuse Katko of being light on crime, especially in connection with the plea agreement offered to former Oswego Mayor John Gosek for a sex crime.  

Attorney General candidate John Cahill is proposing a plan to fight the heroin epidemic that’s ravaging communities across the state.  

Cahill, a Republican, says the five-point plan attacks the problem from a number of angles. It starts with tougher laws that go after the drug traffickers, including tougher sentences and changes in the classification of the drug in penal law.

Campbell Conversations

Democrat Rep. Dan Maffei and his Republican opponent John Katko appear together in their first debate of the campaign with Grant Reeher of the WRVO's Campbell Conversations. The two candidates for the 24th Congressional District have agreed to six debates before Election Day.

WRVO's debate will be broadcast in two parts. The first half includes a discussion on the campaign commercials for both candidates, as well as what the United States should do about the Islamic State (ISIS) and the spread of the Ebola virus. Part two will be broadcast Sunday, October 26 at 6 p.m.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Some powerful Washington politicians are visiting central New York, stumping for their chosen candidates for the 24th Congressional District, in the final weeks of the campaign season.

It was Republican John Katko's turn first. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) headlined a $75-a-plate fundraising brunch in Auburn Sunday in support of Katko. McCarthy and Katko then toured the Seward House, once home to Abraham Lincoln's secretary of state William Seward.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

In the final weeks before elections, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been promoting his memoir and announced travel plans to Puerto Rico. One thing he hasn’t been doing is running a typical campaign, and he’s said little about what he’ll do in the next four years.

Cuomo, who holds a double-digit lead over Republican candidate Rob Astorino, has more than $30 million in the bank. He has employed a rose garden strategy for much of the political season, and seldom holds campaign events.

He says he's simply letting his job speak for itself.