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SU political science professor weighs in on unexpected results of the NY-22 primaries

Candidate Kevin Meaker being interviewed by WAER reporter
Theo Stewart/WAER News
Republican Kevin Meaker will be one of the new faces on the Onondaga County Legislature

New York’s 22nd congressional district primaries came with some unexpected results, according to a Syracuse University Political Science professor. Chris Faricy of the Maxwell School says the biggest surprise came in the Republican race, where Brandon Williams emerged as the victor over party-endorsed Steve Wells.

"When Republican elites get behind a candidate in a primary, sometimes not only does it not matter to Republican voters, it can actually be a negative," Faricy said.

As for the Democratic primary results, Faricy says Francis Conole’s margin of victory was thinner than expected. Sarah Klee Hood finished just three points behind him

"I think the fact that abortion is front and center, and Democratic primaries here and across the country and her strong support for that issue helped her run a strong second," Faricy said.

Neither Conole nor Williams have held public office before. Faricy says that makes the general election in November a race of who can frame their opponent better.

"Will Conole be able to frame Williams as someone who's an outsider and someone who is an extremist, right who's at the extremist ends of the Republican party? That's gonna be his mission, his goal. For the Williams side, the idea is can he link Conole to Biden and some of the economic conditions right now such as inflation?" Faricy said.

Faricy says the results of these primaries don’t cement New York’s 22nd district for either party. He expects it to be a toss-up come November.

"That, really, candidates are at the whim of these macro forces in American politics that have seeped their way down to the local level, right, so what will be the national mood in November?" Faricy said.

Katie Zilcosky is WAER’s All Things Considered host and features reporter. She also co-hosts WAER’s public affairs show Syracuse Speaks. As a reporter, she focuses on technology, economy, and identity.
Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at