Considering the star-crossed history of former Republican candidates for Congress in what is now New York’s 27th District, it should come as no surprise that the 2020 version should emerge from a secret hiding place somewhere in Western New York. Okay, it was actually a golf club in Varysburg – no press admitted. The Party leadership’s decision to hide their deliberations suggests that they are defensive about what they are doing.
That should come as no surprise. After all, following all sorts of strange meetings and public posturing, the party in 2018 ran a man who, we now know, was lying to his constituents – and the FBI. Chris Collins was dragged over the finish line and then went on to serve as a member of Congress for the next ten totally unproductive months. He had been stripped by Republican congressional leaders of all committee assignments before the 2018 election, so the party knew what they were dealing with.
Out of the clandestine process last Saturday emerged State Senator Chris Jacobs as the Republican candidate in NY27. I have never seen a party nomination for such a high level position handled in such a sloppy and secretive manner. The Buffalo News had to use a 2018 file photo of Jacobs with State Party Chairman Nick Langworthy as part of their story.
We will now have a special election to fill the seat on April 28th, followed by a primary on June 23rd, and the November election for a full term. We could wind up with two different members of Congress elected in NY27 this year.
There is some schadenfreude to be enjoyed, if you are a Democrat, as you watch all this unfold. Do the Democrats stand to gain by holding the special election on the same day that Democrats in New York State are selecting delegates to July’s Democratic National Convention? Yes, they do. Well played, Governor Cuomo! The Republican Party, led by Donald Trump, has gone out of their way, in countless efforts from Wisconsin to Florida, from Texas to North Carolina, to suppress voting and to disenfranchise voters. Republicans in NY27 are still free to bring out the party faithful in the most heavily Republican district in the state. Stop whining!
The four declared Republican candidates appeared to have spent all of their time telling their fellow Republicans that they are the Trumpiest of them all. Being an all-out Trumper in 2020, of course, means supporting trillion dollar annual increases in the national debt; crony capitalism with the White House picking out winners and losers in the economy; taking health insurance coverage away from millions of Americans while eliminating things like protection for those with pre-existing conditions; approving regulations that diminish environmental protection; inviting foreign interference in our elections; and generally cuddling up with tin-horn dictators from around the world. That’s quite a platform to run on.
Those who have been running for the Republican nomination in NY27 also come with some issues and baggage.
Senator Chris Jacobs, to many folks in Erie County, has been known as a moderate Republican. His interest in a congressional seat has set such notions aside, as he promotes himself as a far-right Trumper. Does that sell? The far-right Club for Growth has been attacking him for months as a never-Trumper. And how does the State Conservative Party react to the Republicans’ decision? It will probably come down to the same old “we have to save the seat for Trump” argument.
State Senator Robert Ortt is little known in Erie County, so he has been spending money on radio commercials explaining the state criminal charges he once faced. The charges were dropped and the man is therefore entitled to get his good name back. His problem, however, is that he is explaining, and as the political truism goes, if you’re explaining, you’re losing.
Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw followed Chris Collins around in 2018 like a shadow, hoping to pick up some of the aura of the Congressman. It hasn’t done him much good. Mychajliw’s reaction to the Jacobs decision basically burned his bridges to the Erie County Republican Party, with the damage possibly extending beyond the congressional race. Mychajliw says he’s still running. It gets pretty hard when you might need a million dollars and you are starting at $0.
Ahh, a good old-fashion “run against the party bosses” campaign. It seems like eons since we had one of those around here.
The fourth declared candidate, former Darien Town Justice Beth Parlato, proclaims herself as an “outsider.” How you can be an “outsider” while appearing on Fox News as a Trump supporter is hard to understand. Parlato’s only actual political experience was in her elections as Town Justice; total votes in Darien are generally below 1,500. Oh yeah, Jim and Jill Kelly support her candidacy. Parlato has raised a substantial amount of money and she will challenge Jacobs in the June 23rd primary.
Bob McCarthy reported recently in the Buffalo News that there was a fifth candidate in the race – a staffer in the White House. A lot of last minute phone calls were placed from the White House to Republican county chairmen, but the effort seems to be a day late and a dollar short.
Speaking of dollars, Chris Jacobs at last reporting had raised $1,010,009, Parlato reported $271,904, and Ortt collected $114,105, with no federal campaign funds reported by Mychajliw, whose federal committee was just created on January 22. The deadline for the next round of financial disclosures for federal campaigns is January 31st.
Meanwhile the Democrats several weeks ago settled on Nate McMurray for a rerun of his ever-so-close loss to Collins in 2018 and they will soon make that official – probably at a very open and public event. McMurray as of September 30, 2019 had raised $222,178.
Despite the opportunity that the special election offers, a Democrat is still swimming upstream in NY27, where Republicans outnumber Democrats by 41,650 voters; there are, however, 108,139 non-affiliated voters in the district.
It should be noted that despite all the excitement concerning NY27, the district will no longer exist after 2022, when New York State loses another congressional seat.
Who knows how things will turn out in this crazy political climate we find ourselves in; climate change is upon us. The race, at least for the next five months, will be mainly on the Republican side. So get your popcorn ready and enjoy the show.