It’s fair to say that the Republican Primary in New York’s 27th congressional district is crowded — and the indicted Rep. Chris Collins (who continues to assert his innocence of insider trading charges levied against him and his son) may not drop out of the race. Collins just loaned his campaign account $500,000 in case he decides to run.
State Senator Chris Jacobs, long considered to be a chief contender for one of Western New York’s highly coveted congressional seats, has already fundraised $750,000 for the effort.
But some influential figures in the local Republican Party are acknowledging aloud what has been obvious for some time: Jacobs is better suited to challenge Brian Higgins in the 26th congressional district, which comprises the City of Buffalo, it’s first-ring suburbs, and the City of Niagara Falls. It’s a much more moderate district than the 27th, which comprises the rural expanse that stretches between Buffalo and the Finger Lakes — and it involves one rather than two media markets.
Higgins already faces a primary challenger. Eddie Egriu, the Buffalo-based developer, businessman, and founder of Egriu Construction has announced his intention to challenge Higgins — which many expect to be a bruising fight on the left.
Jacobs made his campaign announcement just before word broke that President Donald J. Trump would award a Medal of Honor to Sgt. David Bellavia (who sought the seat in 2014 and is being prodded to do so again).
Political observers agree that Bellavia’s extraordinary military service positions him as a leading contender for the seat. A Hollywood movie and the speaking circuit will only add to Bellavia’s stature before the 2020 election.
If Bellavia decides not to run in the 27th district, it’s likely that State Senator Rob Ortt, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, would enter the primary. His name is probably most familiar to voters in the district, given that his State Senate district covers most of it — including the counties of Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, and Monroe.
In either event, it’s widely expected that Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw will receive the support of Collins, should he choose to step aside as has been expected for many months now.