Democratic Party activists are almost enthralled. Attorney Kevin Stocker, a prominent and popular moderate Republican and former Town Prosecutor, is willing to primary incumbent Congressman Chris Collins, one of the wealthiest members of the House of Representatives and a resident of Clarence’s Spaulding Lake neighborhood.
Stocker has not yet made any decisions, but judging from his social media feed, he remains very open to the possibility.
“You can not expect millionaires and billionaires, who are elected to public office, will fight for the average hard working middle class, the working poor, seniors on fixed low income, the poor and those with disabilities,” Stocker wrote on social media following Collins’ vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Of course, Collins was the first member of Congress to endorse the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. In recent months he has endured controversy related to his sharing of investment access to a private firm in which he and his associates own a considerable stake.
While his district is conservative, it has been held in recent years by Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul. The district is largely rural, comprised of small socially conservative towns and villages from the Niagara region to the Finger Lakes.
“The wealthy elected officials seek office to enrich themselves further, receive tax breaks and give the country worse healthcare or no healthcare. The Republican leadership is an embarrassment as they hurt senior citizens, people with pre-existing conditions, and hard working families who struggle with the costs of healthcare,” he explains. “Congressman Chris Collins has sold out Western New York families to further enrich the wealthy and should be ashamed of himself.”
A primary could split the district’s Republican electorate along class lines, as has proven the case with recent primaries waged by David Bellevia, and a general election contest waged by Tea Party businessman Jack Davis. Local political operatives estimate that the primary would cost Collins between $2.2 and $3.6 million in campaign contributions — before he even gets to the general election.
For years, Stocker has been seen as an eventual contender for the Congressional seat currently held by Brian Higgins, and had been considering a bid for that contest.