Cincinnatus man stepping aside in 22nd congressional race

Heath Phillips, of Cincinnatus, announcing his run for U.S. Congress in front of the Veterans for Foreign Wars building on Main Street in Cortland on July 12, 2017 (Photo: Peter Blanchard/Cortland Voice).

CORTLAND, N.Y. - A Cortland County man is the latest candidate to bow out in the race for the 22nd Congressional District.

Heath Phillips (D-Cincinnatus) sent out a tweet Thursday night which indicated he would be "stepping aside" due to family issues.

In July, Phillips announced that he would run against Claudia Tenney (R) to represent the 22nd congressional district. The district covers a large portion of central New York, including all of Cortland, Chenango, Madison, and Oneida counties, as well as parts of Broome, Herkimer, Oswego, and Tioga counties.

The candidate recently got custody of his 3-year-old grandson, Phillips explained in a phone interview Friday afternoon.

"I can always step back in if it's before April," Phillips said. "My focus is my grandson and making sure he starts getting a stable life."

Phillips was campaigning on a platform of expanding healthcare, raising awareness of military sexual assault issues, and advocating for women's rights. Prior to running for Congress, he served as town chairperson for the Cortland County Democratic Committee.

With Phillips out of the race, New York State Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) is the lone democrat to challenge Tenney in the upcoming 2018 election.