Former President Donald Trump is cheering on Onondaga County Conservative Party Chairman Bernard Ment after he signaled the local committee would not back the re-election of Republican Rep. John Katko.
The episode underscores how Republicans like Katko who broke with their party could face uphill battles to win re-election next year, and comes after the GOP conference removed Rep. Liz Cheney from a leadership post in favor of Rep. Elise Stefanik, a prominent Trump supporter.
A Republican who represents a battleground district in Central New York, Katko was among the GOP members of Congress to vote in favor of Trump's impeachment this year following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. The Conservative Party earlier this year signaled Katko would not receive their support in 2022 as he seeks re-election.
Trump, in a hand-written letter to Ment written over a print out of a Post-Standard article about the endorsement, wrote, "Great move -- Katko will never win again."
Katko's office did not respond to requests from Spectrum News 1 for comment.
Ment posted the letter on his Facebook page on Monday. The Post-Standard first reported on the letter from Trump.
"Got this letter today...I don't care if you liked the guy or not...it's still a rush to get something from someone important about something you said or did!" Ment wrote in the post.
The Conservative Party in New York is a small, but influential ballot line that often allows Republican candidates to run on it, giving them added support in potentially close races with Democrats. Katko's 24th Congressional District has long been considered a battleground seat for both parties, though he has held the seat since 2014.
A Conservative-Republican split can have consequences for a GOP candidate in a close House race. In a 2009 special election for a North Country House district, Democrat Bill Owens successfully won a heated three-way race that included the Conservative-backed candidate, Doug Hoffman, and Republican Dede Scozzafava.
Stefanik now represents a redrawn version of that district, and has risen in the ranks of the GOP conference this year after Cheney became a vocal critic of the former president.