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GOP candidates line up to challenge Maffei

— Congressman Dan Maffei, a Democrat, has never won a midterm election.

So the line forms on the right as no less than eight local Republicans have announced their willingness to oppose Maffei in November.

Last Tuesday, Jan. 28, the eight GOP hopefuls all appeared here at a town of Salina Republican Committee meeting at American Legion Post 188 on South Cypress Street in the village of Liverpool. Organized by Bill Tassone, chairman of the town of Salina GOP and vice-chairman of the county Republican committee, the Jan. 28 meeting drew 140 party members.

Because our 24th Congressional District includes all of Onondaga County, Tassone also invited party members from the towns of Clay, Cicero and Van Buren. “We had 140 people,” Tassone said. “I’d been hoping for at least 100, so I was very pleased with the turnout.”

Well-heeled liberal

While Maffei had amassed a campaign treasure chest of $1.1 million as of the end of 2013, his challengers think he’s beatable because he’s a liberal who’s closely identified with the policies of the increasingly unpopular President Barack Obama.

The Republican hopefuls who spoke here in Liverpool last week were: Syracuse economist Janet Burman, former Syracuse Common Councilor Rick Guy, Syracuse businessman Ian Hunter, former Assistant U.S. Attorney John Katko, former U.S. Army Col. John Lemondes, former Auburn school board member Jason Lesch and Randy Wolken, president of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York.

Onondaga County Republican Committee Chairman Tom Dadey, who attended the Jan. 28 meeting here, said the sheer number of candidates may make a September primary inevitable.

Four-county district

Others who attended the candidates’ forum included county legislators Judy Tassone, Kathy Rapp, Eric Shepard, Casey Jordan and Jim Corl Jr. Salina Town Supervisor Mark Nicotra was also there, along with Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office Chief John Balloni (pronounced Bell-LOAN). Balloni is one of two GOP candidates who are campaigning for sheriff this year now that incumbent Sheriff Kevin Walsh has announced his retirement.

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