Jun 01, 2014 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
As a federal prosecutor, John Katko took on Mexican drug cartels in El Paso and helped develop a gang task force in Syracuse. Now, as the Republican candidate for Congress in Central New York’s 24th District, he’s taking on the Democrats in Washington, D.C.
“If I can get through to those gangbangers, I can get through to those knuckleheads in Washington,” Katko said in Liverpool on May 22.
The 51-year-old Republican from Camillus is challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei in the November election. Katko kicked off his “listening tour” of the 24th District May 22, addressing some 60 people at American Legion Post 188 on South Cypress St.
He pledged to work in Congress for a balanced budget, stricter anti-immigration enforcement, strengthening the Second Amendment right to bear arms and restoring veterans’ benefits.
Katko criticized Maffei’s support of the Affordable Care Act (known as Obamacare). At the legion hall, Katko placed a bulky copy of the Obamacare legislation — all 10,535 pages — on a table and said Maffei had neglected to read the massive bill before he voted in favor of it.
“It bothers me the way this was rammed through Congress,” Katko said. “It was never properly analyzed.” Obamacare is having a detrimental effect on small businesses throughout the country, he said.
Katko opposes the current proposal to raise the minimum wage. “Free market principles work,” he said. “The current bill in Congress is a typical irresponsible Democratic Party effort that could lead to 500,000 lost jobs. Sure, the minimum wage could use a little bump, but we need to adjust it in a way that makes sense.”
Katko spoke about his Irish-Catholic family, his wife and three sons and his reverence for the policies of President Ronald Reagan. He strongly objected to the way local Democrats have labeled him a right-wing extremist.
“I’m a fiscal conservative,” Katko said. “That doesn’t make me a demon. That doesn’t make me some kind of nut. That kind of labelling — as my opponent is doing to me — allows him to hide from the real issues.”
Katko called for a series of debates and accused Maffei of dodging him.
Last month, however, Maffei’s campaign accepted a debate challenge from Katko, according to The Post-Standard. While Maffei reportedly agreed to a series of moderated, televised debates, specific details are yet to be negotiated.
Meanwhile, Onondaga County Democratic Committee Chairman Mark English has publicly linked Katko to national Tea Party Republicans who espouse a mix of libertarian, conservative and populist proposals such as reducing taxes and spending.
Katko may share some Tea Party values, such as lower taxes, shrinking big government bureaucracies and entitlement programs and opposing deficit spending and borrowing from foreign banks, but he doesn’t see such positions as extreme.
“Just listen to me,” he said, “and you’ll know I’m not a radical.”
Along with the Republican line, Katko’s name will also appear on the Conservative and Independence lines in November. Maffei is running on both the Democratic and Working Families party lines.
Now serving his second non-consecutive term in the House of Representatives, Maffei, 45, said he has focused on increasing access to affordable healthcare and on bringing jobs to this area through investment in infrastructure.
If Katko unseats Maffei in November, he’d likely join a GOP majority in Congress. Democrats now control the executive branch and the Senate, but House Republicans presently outnumber Democrats 240 to 191.