Jan. 18, 2021 — New York Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse) announced Friday that he will not seek a fifth term later this year, creating a 47th open seat for the 2022 US House elections.
Katko, who indicated that he and his wife buried all four of their parents during the past three years, which he said was “gut-wrenching,” says he now desires more time with his family. He leaves a seat where he has averaged 56.5 percent of the vote as one of only eight Republicans from the 27-member Empire State delegation.
Other factors may also have played a role in his retirement decision. Redistricting appeared to be creating some re-election problems for Rep. Katko, as had former President Donald Trump.
New York lost a seat in reapportionment — a district collapse that will come from the Upstate region. Early maps suggested that Katko’s Syracuse-anchored seat would be combined with Rep. Claudia Tenney’s 22nd District, which would result in a paired incumbent situation before the primary winner likely would face another competitive general election campaign.
In the past two election cycles, Rep. Katko’s opponent was college professor Dana Balter (D), and her challenges resulted in expensive and hard fought 53-43 percent (2020) and 52-47 percent (2018) victories. Balter spent $2.7 million and $3.3 million in her two successive races against Rep. Katko, totaling $6 million, which he countered with a combined $6.3 million. Additionally, both candidates received hundreds of thousands of dollars in support from their respective political parties and outside groups.
The NY-24 seat is one of only nine districts where the electorate supported President Biden and elected a Republican to the House. In the current Congress, the 24th is one of just three districts that Hillary Clinton carried while electing a Republican Representative. Katko had repeatedly proven himself as an effective and successful political candidate.
In a paired 2022 situation against Rep. Tenney, however, the retiring congressman would have faced increasing pressure from his political right largely because of his vote to impeach former President Trump. Additionally, the New York Conservative Party leadership said they would not allow Katko to run with their ballot line in the 2022 general election. In New York, a candidate can run with more than one party designation.