Katko will not seek reelection, citing personal perspective shifts

Date: 2022-01-14 12:34:20

Location: www.politico.com

Rep. John Katko speaks during a House Committee on Homeland Security meeting on Capitol Hill on July 22, 2020. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

ALBANY, N.Y. — Republican Rep. John Katko, a four-term congressman from Central New York who backed former President Donald Trump’s impeachment a year ago, will not seek reelection.

Katko announced in a statement Friday that he will not run for another term representing the state’s 24th Congressional District, which has been competitive for some time. The district’s boundaries this year are unclear as the state Legislature works to finalize new lines in the coming weeks.

Katko, 59, attributed the choice to personal priority shifts, and said his parents and those of his wife, Robin, all died within the past three years.

“To say that those gut-wrenching times provided life-changing perspective for me is putting it mildly,” he said. “I am thrilled to begin this next and best chapter of my life alongside Robin and our family,” he added.

Katko has walked an increasingly narrow line for the better part of the past decade, consistently touting bipartisanship in the district that has swung both left and right, regardless of its presidential vote.

Katko, first elected in 2014, consistently rates as one of Washington’s most middle-of-the-road, across-the-aisle lawmakers.

Trump hailed Katko's departure.

"Great news, another one bites the dust. Katko, from Upstate New York, is gone!" he said in a statement.

Early last year, he was the first of the 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump, losing him the support of many state and local conservatives and earning flak from both Trump and many of his GOP colleagues.

But he still easily won reelection in a district that President Joe Biden won by nine percentage points last year.

Some Republicans praised Katko for continuing to win a seat that is Democratic-leaning, making him one of a few Republicans in the nation to be able to do so consistently.

The district, which stretches across Syracuse and into surrouding rural counties, has about 20,000 more Democrats as Republicans.

"I first met John Katko in ‘14 when we were both new candidates," Rep. Elise Stefanik wrote on Twitter.

"No one thought a Republican could win his district. Not only did he win, he has won in landslides ever since. John is one of the most effective Members for his constituents. He & Robin will always be dear friends."

Still, Katko makes the 13th House Republican to say he’s retiring or seeking another office this year.

Further compromising any certainty Katko might have had in seeking to remain in Congress: The district could bear harsher effects of redistricting than some of its neighbors, potentially making it more attainable for Democrats to regain.

The district in its various iterations has flip-flopped between Democratic and Republican representatives.

A set of maps proposed by Democrats in the state's Independent Redistricting Commission place Katko and GOP colleague Rep. Claudia Tenney in the same district. New York is losing one House seat, going from 27 to 26 seats next year.

The potential new maps, which have yet to be approved, could signal a starting spot as New York Democrats shuffle congressional boundaries to make up for the coming loss of a seat.