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Politics & Government

NY-24 Democratic Congressional Primary Candidates Campaign Virtually Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

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You may have heard New York’s Presidential Primary has been cancelled due to COVID-19, so now all eyes turn to the June 23rd congressional primary.  While it might not be on the minds of many Democrats in the 24th district amid the pandemic, the two candidates are trying to keep their supporters energized and engaged. 

Party designee Francis Conole and challenger Dana Balter recently held virtual town hall-style gatherings.

The pandemic has forced the candidates to shift their campaigns from the streets to computer screens.

"Hi everybody.  Thanks for joining us.  We're really excited to have you.  I'm looking forward to a great discussion tonight..."  said Dana Balter as she introduced herself to the 120 or so people tuning in.

"We are now on our fourth iteration of Conole on your Computer.  Thank you so much for joining us.  Since we have some new people..." said Francis Conole to his roughly 30 viewers.

COVID-19 has also dramatically changed the tone and focus of the campaign.  Both candidates addressed…and took questions about the federal and state response.  Dana Balter says the pandemic has revealed systemic flaws in health care.

"One of the things I want to fight for in Washington, DC is health care for everybody.  COVID-19 reminds us in a very real way that health care isn't just about the individual, but it's a public good.  When your neighbors have good health care, you are safer.  You are healthier."

For his part, Francis Conole says we have to work on the health crisis before addressing the economic recovery.

"We're not just going to be able to full-throttle through the health side of it and hope that the economy returns. We need to make sure we're doing the testing, the tracing, and then the treating, making sure hospitals and health care professionals have what they need.  We're going to need that state and local funding in the next tranche."

Curiously, during the 35 minutes we listened, neither Conole nor Balter mentioned the primary, and instead focused on defeating incumbent John Katko and President Donald Trump.