Two fight for GOP nomination in NY-22 congressional primary

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WRVO – Voters in New York’s new 22nd Congressional District have not had the chance to see the Republican candidates go head-to-head on the issues.

At this point in the race, candidate Steve Wells has declined several invitations to debate his opponent Brandon Williams, including on WRVO’s Campbell Conversations.

Wells has also not responded to our requests for an interview for this piece. The Cazenovia businessman has said publicly he wanted to spend his time in the ramp-up to the primaries meeting with voters face-to-face.

Speaking to host Grant Reeher on the Campbell Conversations, Williams criticized his opponent’s strategy.

“He ran against Claudia Tenney in 2016 in a primary and got trounced, and performed very poorly in the debates at that time,” said Williams. “And I think learning from that, believes that he can overwhelm this primary election with money, and frankly, that’s shameful. That’s not what happens in Central New York.”

The newly drawn 22nd Congressional District includes all of Onondaga, Madison, and Oneida counties and a small portion of Oswego County,

The majority of that geographic area is now represented by Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), who is retiring at the end of his term.

Wells served as a co-chair of Congressman Katko’s finance committee and has racked up a number of endorsements from high-profile Republicans, including North County Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.

Williams, a tech entrepreneur from California, who owns a farm in the Cayuga County Town of Sennett, is painting himself as more conservative than both Congressman Katko and Wells. He’s endorsed by the New York State, Onondaga County, Madison County, and Oneida County Conservative parties.

Williams said he’s firmly pro-second amendment and calls himself the only pro-life candidate in the race.

“The thing I draw attention to in the abortion issue is there’s always two parties,” said Williams. “There’s the very important life and choice of the mother, but then there’s the life and choice of someone who doesn’t have a voice, which is the child.”

The winner of this race will face the winner of the Democratic primary in November. Four Democrats, Francis Conole, Sarah Klee Hood, Chol Majok, and Sam Roberts, are running in that race. We’ll preview that race in a story set to air Monday, August 23.