Republican Party operative Michael Caputo, who enjoys a “public relations” contract at the Erie County Water Authority, broke a story last month that was later retracted, after a staffer from the local congressional office complained.
Some say that the story was illegitimate, and speculate whether or not it was ordered by GOP Chairman Langworthy. Others argue that the story was accurate and that the congressional staffer, Chuck Eaton, is not familiar with Higgins’ day to day thinking.
The rumor instigated a flurry of political speculation that hasn’t slowed. Amidst that chatter is a prevailing scenario postulated by the prognosticators: that President Obama will make Higgins the Ambassador to Ireland, a major political prize that he has been known to covet.
Serving out the final twelve months of the Obama administration traveling extensively to Ireland would be a welcome task for a Congressman with stressful national security responsibilities. Observers say that, if the appointment comes, it would likely take place in late January.
An abruptly vacated congressional seat would send the local political establishment into a frenzied battle for the Democratic primary nomination. Often, a divided Democratic party has made general elections winnable for Republicans despite enrollment disadvantages, so a Republican primary would be likely as well.
There are a number of obvious congressional contenders who would be expected to seek the seat, from business people in the private sector to career politicians. Here are a number of the names that are being talked about by political operatives.
Byron Brown (D-Masten), mayor
Eddie Egriu (D-Elmwood Village), businessman
Mark Poloncarz (D-Elmwood Village), county executive
Kathy Weppner (R-Williamsville), broadcaster
Chris Jacobs (R-Elmwood Village), county clerk
Patrick Gallivan (R-Elma), state senator