Katko says he will not seek reelection in 2022

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Rep. John Katko. WRVO News File Photo.

Central New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) announced Friday that he will not seek reelection in 2022.

In a statement, Katko said he is leaving Congress to spend more time with his family.

“Over the course of the past three years, my wife Robin and I buried all four of our parents,” Katko said in a statement. “To say that those gut-wrenching times provided life-changing perspective for me is putting it mildly. That’s why, after 32 years of public service, I have decided not to seek re-election to Congress, so that I can enjoy my family and life in a fuller and more present way.”

Katko served as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Syracuse until deciding to run for the 24th Congressional District seat in 2014.

“This is a tremendous leap for me, going from completely apolitical to going neck deep in the political pool,” Katko told WRVO in an interview in 2014.

Katko went to to defeat incumbent Democrat Dan Maffei by 20 points.

From the beginning of his time in the House, Katko was viewed as a moderate. He voted against his party in a 2015 attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, saying at the time he would not vote to repeal the ACA unless there was a suitable replacement.

In his first bid for reelection in 2016, he won by 22 points, despite his opponent trying to link him to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Katko did not endorse or vote for Trump in 2016.

In the 2018 midterm elections, Republicans lost the House, but Katko hung on, defeating Democrat Dana Balter by 5 points.

Katko did support Trump’s reelection bid in 2020, despite calling Trump a “knucklehead.” Katko won a fourth term in 2020, defeating Balter in a rematch by 20 points.

But Katko upset some in the GOP in 2021. Two days after the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Katko said he could no longer support Trump, saying Trump was to blame for the insurrection.

Katko was one of 10 House Republicans to vote in favor of impeaching Trump following the January 6 attack. Trump vowed to support any candidate to challenge Katko and the other 9 GOP members in a primary. Three of the 10, including Katko, have decided to not run for reelection.

Katko was facing several potential primary challengers this year, many saying Katko’s vote to impeach Trump as the reason they wanted to run. Tim Ko of DeWitt, John Murtari of Lyons, in Wayne County, and Andrew McCarthy from Rome, all announced they would challenge Katko in a primary.

Redistricting may have also played a role in Katko’s decision. State lawmakers have rejected an independent commission’s congressional district maps and are expected to draw their own. Since the state legislature is dominated by Democrats, it is likely Katko’s district would be redrawn in a way to favor Democrats.

Following Katko’s announcement Friday, former President Trump released a statement.

“Great news, another one bites the dust. Katko, from Upstate New York, is gone!” Trump said.

Full statement from Katko:

“For the past 32 years, I’ve devoted my life to protecting and serving our community and our country. First as a federal prosecutor, and now as a Member of Congress, it has been my mission to unite people in order to solve serious problems. 

“We have had great success in this mission: passing a long-needed and bipartisan infrastructure package, addressing drug addiction and mental health, lowering taxes on the middle class, leading efforts to secure our homeland and keep this country safe – and far too many others to mention. This experience has been rewarding in ways I never thought possible.

“During this same time, I have been blessed beyond belief with family, health, and the most loving and patient wife on earth. Over the course of the past three years, my wife Robin and I buried all four of our parents. To say that those gut-wrenching times provided life-changing perspective for me is putting it mildly. 

“That’s why, after 32 years of public service, I have decided not to seek re-election to Congress, so that I can enjoy my family and life in a fuller and more present way.

“My conscience, principles, and commitment to do what’s right have guided every decision I’ve made as a Member of Congress, and they guide my decision today. It is how I’ve been able to unite people to solve problems, and how I was rewarded with resounding victories in every single campaign for Congress.

“Representing Central New York in Congress — solving real problems, and relentlessly championing bipartisanship — has been the honor and privilege of a lifetime. It is with profound gratitude for my colleagues, staff, supporters, team, and the people of New York’s 24th Congressional District that I am thrilled to begin this next and best chapter of my life alongside Robin and our family.”