New York’s Syracuse region is home to a congressional district that has long tantalized Democrats, but their efforts to win it have — in recent cycles — ended in failure.

President Joe Biden carried what is now New York’s 22nd Congressional District by nearly 8 points in 2020. Two years later, Republican Brandon Williams, a Navy veteran and political newbie, won the seat by a few thousand votes.

Now, with control of the U.S. House of Representatives potentially running through the Empire State next year, the party is eying the seat once again.

(Spectrum News 1 graphic)

Several Democrats have already launched their campaigns.

Sarah Klee Hood, who came in a close second in last year’s Democratic primary, is mounting another run.

“When you look at this field, we’re the only candidate that’s been through a primary, let alone a congressional redistricting primary,” she said in an interview, referencing the possibility that the district lines could shift again before next year's election amid litigation in the state courts.

The Air Force veteran and Dewitt town councilor lists the economy, veterans issues and abortion rights among her top legislative focuses.

“As a woman and a mother, I am keenly and uniquely positioned to ensure that we uphold women's rights, which is crucial and critical in this day and age,” she said. "Raising two young daughters, I want to ensure that they have the future of their choice.”

Also on the list is state Sen. John Mannion, a former science teacher who currently represents a sizable chunk of this congressional district in the state Legislature.

Mannion touts his advocacy in Albany for the Green CHIPS program, which the tech company Micron plans to take advantage of as they roll out their massive new semiconductor factory just outside Syracuse.

“I need to be a strong voice for my district. And that might be a position that is progressive or moderate or conservative, depending on the piece of legislation,” he said.

Utica associate professor Clemmie Harris, a former state trooper and aide to Gov. David Paterson, is also making a bid. He points to the accomplishments of the Paterson era, including reigning in stop-and-frisk policing policies.

He lists combating gun violence among his top priorities, noting he has a personal connection to the Tops Supermarket massacre in Buffalo last year.

“That supermarket is one block away from the house that I lived in when I first came from the hospital,” he said. “That was my neighborhood for the first seven years of my life. It is in the neighborhood where my mother still goes to church.”

He argues the AR-15 should not be available for domestic purchase and says gun violence should be treated as a matter of public safety and public health.

Manlius Town Councilor Katelyn Kriesel has also filed to run in the Democratic primary.

For weeks now, the rush of migrants into New York has dominated headlines, prompting questions about the Biden White House’s handling of the matter and what role upstate communities should be playing.

“Syracuse and Oneida County for that fact — Utica specifically — have always been welcoming to immigrants and refugees. And I really think that there's a place here in our community to continue that tradition,” Hood said.

“It is particularly damaging that migrants are facing such xenophobic attacks that derail us from being able to focus on the structural issues,” Clem said, arguing larger immigration reforms are needed.

“We need our governmental entities well-coordinated. And, you know, right now, we really don't have that functioning,” Mannion said, echoing the call for more comprehensive reforms.

Hood, Mannion and Harris are largely on the same page in painting incumbent Rep. Brandon Williams as out of step with the district. Some accuse him of being in lockstep with so-called extreme MAGA Republicans, saying his messaging back home doesn’t line up with his votes in D.C.

In a recent statement, Williams said the Democratic primary field is “shaping up to be filled with candidates trying to out-left one another on policies that have delivered New York State the highest taxes in the union, unsafe streets, and an exodus of people out of state.”

“I will continue to honorably love and serve Central NY and the Mohawk Valley with common sense solutions to the complex issues our nation faces — bringing back manufacturing jobs, increased infrastructure funding, lowering energy costs, and protecting our local families,” he continued.