So we thought after the Special Master had his final say on re-districting that the Western New York political picture had settled down. Wrong.
Abandoning his previous near 100 percent loyalty to Donald Trump and the far right of his party, Congressman Chris Jacobs shocked the political world last week with his announcement of support for proposals by Governor Kathy Hochul and others to restrict some gun purchases in the state by the age of the buyer, plus other reforms. Jacobs’ story has received national attention. Some state proposals could be enacted before the end of this week when the Legislature adjourns for the year.
The intensified level of action, of course, follows the horrific massacre of people at the Tops supermarket in Buffalo and then the killing of 19 children and two teachers at the Robb Elementary School in Texas. The thoughts and prayers of rationale people at this time are centered around their grief at the loss of human life but also the possibility of some sort of federal action to impose control with action such as red flag requirements and restrictions on the purchase of military assault weapons.
The Republican Party is joined at the hip with the NRA and other gun advocacy groups. Together they have made it very clear that guns are their priority, not people killed or wounded by guns.
Jacobs’ announcement of his change of heart about the issue (he ran with NRA support in 2020) has set his party into chaos. After settling on Jacobs as their candidate in the new 23rd congressional district which runs from eastern and southern Erie County through the southern tier to Chemung County, the party is now in a frantic search for a candidate to oppose Jacobs in the August 23rd primary. Jacobs is already on the ballot. Any new candidate will need to collect at least 1,062 valid Republican signatures and submit them to the state Board of Elections no later than June 10. There is also the issue about raising money in a short timeframe against the multimillionaire incumbent.
Republican, Conservative and gun organizations have, since Jacobs’ announcement, been talking about coming up with an opponent for Jacobs. State Republican Chairman Nick Langworhy must be particularly obsessed with this objective since he twice went hat in hand to Donald Trump, first to become chairman, and then to secure Trump’s endorsement of Jacobs in the contested 2020 special election and primary for Congress in 2020. Trump will not take kindly to what’s happening now.
Potential Jacobs opponents who are being vetted, in no particular order, include:
- State Senator Rob Ortt, who would lose his party’s Senate leadership position if he switched to a congressional race. If he were the candidate Republicans would also need to scramble to nominate a replacement for his Senate seat by the same June 10 deadline (850 good signatures needed). Ortt raised a considerable amount of money for his short-lived congressional campaign in 2020 before deferring to Jacobs. Ortt does not live in the 23rd district.
- WBEN commentator David Bellavia. He would probably need to leave that job, given equal-time requirements of the broadcast media.
- Assemblyman David DiPietro, who has a limited public record and is often involved in far-right events.
- Carpetbagger Marc Cenedella, a Manhattan businessman recently re-settled to his Fredonia home.
Former State Senator Kathy Young, who left the Senate when she was not elected party leader, could also draw a mention, but she also has some baggage, having voted for the SAFE Act.
More than 40 percent of the 23rd district is in Erie County, which should give Langworthy and the county leadership a large say over what happens. You will not need to wait long to see how the line-up in the 23rd plays out.
We last saw campaign financial reports from officeholders and candidates in January. On May 27 all state and local candidates for office who are in a contested primary were required to file new reports.
Governor Kathy Hochul, as she did last January, led all filers, announcing that she had raised an additional $10.3 million since January, for a total of $31.7 million since she became Governor in August. She has $18.5 million in her campaign treasury.
Here is additional information from the other filings:
- Congressman Tom Suozzi, one of Hochul’s opponents in the June 28th Democratic primary, raised $3.8 million since January and has $2.7 million remaining.
- New York City Advocate Jumaane Williams, another candidate in the primary, raised just $249,638. He has $130,581 available.
- Newly appointed Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado has raised $2.275 million thus far, which includes $2 million transferred from his congressional campaign account.
- Suozzi’s running mate for lt. governor, Diana Reyna, has collected $352,656, with $126,372 still in the bank.
- Williams’ candidate for lt. governor, Ana Maria Archila, produced $293,728 and has $203,642 left.
- Congressman Lee Zeldin, the endorsed Republican candidate for governor, raised $3.2 million since January and has $3.1 million left.
- Businessman Harry Wilson has put $11 million of his own funds into the race thus far and raised an additional $1.9 million. His account shows a balance of $4.2 million, but he may also continue to write large personal checks to the campaign.
- Former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino collected $611,711 since January with $1.1 million remaining.
- Trump golf partner Andrew Guiliani collected $211,725 with $312,799 in the bank as of last week.
- Senator Ed Rath has raised $24,291 and now has a total of $121,539.
- County Clerk Mickey Kearns, who has been elected to office with Republican support but is technically a Democrat running in the primary, collected $24,291 in the past five months and has $121,539 in his campaign account.
- Eden Town Supervisor Melissa Hartman, the endorsed Democratic candidate for County Clerk, has a total of $29,795 in her treasury. She raised $39,472 since receiving the party endorsement
I will provide campaign financial updates for the following candidates when available by way of editing this May 31st post:
- State Senator Sean Ryan
- Ben Carlisle, a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 60th district against Ryan
- Former County Executive Joel Giambra, the Republican candidate for Senate in the 60th district
The Democratic primary for governor still has Hochul leading by a substantial margin. The Republican primary for governor presents a less than clear assessment of who might win as Zeldin and Wilson slug it out in TV ads. The other candidates are also-rans although Guiliani will take critical votes away from Zeldin.
The next campaign financials are due out on June 17.
Speaking of campaign financials, the New York Times last week reported that Trump contributions through the WinRed campaign financial collection system have been declining over the past seven months, down by a third. That probably explains the four or five text messages that I daily receive from Trump saying such thing as my contribution will be matched 300 percent – no wait, 1,000 percent; plus autographed hats; trips to a Trump event; and other exciting enticements!
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