Election 2016

Colleen Deacon campaigns with prominent state, local politicians ahead of Election Day

Sam Ogozalek | Staff Writer

Democrat Colleen Deacon, who is currently attempting to upset Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) in New York's 24th Congressional District race, spoke at a Democratic "Get Out the Vote" event on Friday in Syracuse.

Democrat Colleen Deacon was joined by several prominent state and local politicians for an hour-long “Get Out the Vote” rally on Friday. A common theme among speakers at the event was the importance of campaigning hard for Democratic candidates up until Election Day.

Alongside Deacon were Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, New York state’s Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York State Assemblymember Pamela Hunter (D-Syracuse), Town of DeWitt board member Kerin Rigney and Democrat Diane Dwire — who is currently running against Gary Finch (R-Springport) in New York state’s 126th Assembly District. Each politician gave speeches about the 2016 election.

“This is why I love coming to Syracuse … and Onondaga, you have a lot of powerful women here,” said Hochul, looking around at the gathered speakers, to loud applause from the crowd.

The rally attendees totaled about 60, and were packed into a recreation hall at the Iron Workers Local 60, a Syracuse union building on the 500 block of West Genesee Street.

All seven politicians weighed in on Deacon’s congressional opponent John Katko and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. They also gave their take on several campaign issues including the resettlement of refugees in central New York and the local economy.

Deacon — who is currently 23 percentage points down against incumbent Rep. Katko (R-N.Y.) in New York state’s 24th Congressional District race — was officially endorsed by Hochul during the rally.

The Syracuse University alumna was also endorsed by President Barack Obama on Oct. 24.

Some of the speakers, including Miner and Rigney, took an emotional turn in remarks, saying the outcome of the 2016 election is incredibly important for the future of the nation.

“The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is fear,” Rigney said. “This year, the choice we have as a people, is whether we are going to be a nation of love or a nation of fear … We must elect people like Hillary Clinton and Colleen Deacon because they believe America is a nation of love.”

The gathered politicians also focused on Katko’s voting record throughout the event.

The rally’s attendees, who were mostly local Democrats and union workers, yelled in support after Rigney criticized Katko, who is also an SU alumnus, for his comments on refugee resettlement in Syracuse, while booing when she mentioned Katko voted to defund Planned Parenthood four times.

The rally, while primarily held for Deacon, also served as a platform for the politicians to speak about Clinton.

The Democratic presidential candidate leads Trump in New York by 24 percentage points, according to the latest Siena College Poll.

Several Clinton campaign workers were at the event, and Clinton campaign signs were taped to the wall behind the podium where Deacon and the other politicians spoke.

Throughout the crowd, many people wore Clinton-Tim Kaine pins, and Hochul stuck a small sticker depicting the presidential candidate’s logo — a bright blue capitalized “H” with an overlaid red, rightward facing arrow — on the lapel of her suit jacket.

While Deacon was recently endorsed by the president, Katko was endorsed by The New York Times last weekend for being “a rare breed of Republican” in Congress.

In a press conference following the event, Gillibrand spoke to The Daily Orange on The New York Times’ endorsement of Katko last Saturday, and its potential impacts on the congressional race.

“I think the votes are here in Syracuse, and the people of Syracuse get to decide this election, not some (editorial) board in New York City,” Gillibrand said.

Richard Zalewski, a Syracuse resident and supporter of Clinton and Deacon, said he had not heard of The New York Times’ endorsement of Katko.

“I might understand their reasoning … I (haven’t) seen it, but I assume they are saying he’s been willing to be more of a compromise moderate,” Zalewski said before the rally. “However, on the key issues he’s not.”

The Syracuse resident said he does not trust Katko on topics such as abortion and campaign finance reform.

The politicians who spoke Friday echoed Zalewski’s concerns, frequently saying that while Katko models himself as an independent and bipartisan member of Congress, he is far from it.

“The alleged moderate … he prioritizes the needs of the Republican Party over the needs of the people of central New York,” Rigney said.

The event ended with rally attendees posing for photos with the politicians, as Deacon staffers quickly began to tear down campaign signs taped to walls and organize supplies.

“You need to exhaust yourself,” Hunter said to the crowd, while explaining the Democratic Party needs them to get out and work hard for Deacon and other Democrats the last few days before Nov. 8. “If you’re tired, work through the tiredness.”

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