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Katko comes out swinging

— 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.

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