The Politics Column can pretty much guarantee the Election Day phone calls to The Buffalo News come Nov. 5. Voters already bombarded with 27th Congressional District campaigning this year will question the post’s absence on their ballot – even though that election will, of course, not occur until 2020.
But a June 2020 primary almost dictates that the effort begins in 2019. That’s why the state’s most Republican congressional district now represented by Republican Chris Collins will soon see a flurry of GOP activity.
Darien attorney Beth Parlato is tentatively slated to announce her Republican candidacy on July 29. Not yet a household name, most observers believe the only woman in a potentially crowded field of GOP candidates will nevertheless prove a factor.
To viewers of Fox News, Parlato is most recognizable. She is a regular contributor to its shows, providing a national platform for her conservative views. And she is a key member of major conservative organizations that grant her instant access to a national fundraising base.
Parlato has been making the rounds, is already planning the campaign with consultants and made her statewide debut at the Republican State Committee meeting in Albany a few weeks ago. When she announces, she will join State Sen. Chris Jacobs of Buffalo as the second official candidate.
State Sen. Rob Ortt of North Tonawanda is also acting very much like a candidate, looking beyond the confines of his 62nd Senate District even if not yet ready to make it official.
“We’re making all the necessary plans,” he said a few days ago. “Should I make the decision, we’ll be ready.”
Ortt will also prove a major player in a potentially crowded GOP primary 11 months from now. An Army veteran of Afghanistan with a Bronze Star, he hails from the key county of Niagara with plenty of ready-made support.
Jacobs, meanwhile, is already on the campaign trail – big time. After hosting a major fundraiser at his family’s East Aurora estate and dropping $325,000 of his own funds into his campaign account, Jacobs enters the race with a whopping $748,000.
But the pile of campaign money has so far failed to scare off the competition. Parlato and Ortt appear ready to go, and Collins kept everyone guessing with a $500,000 campaign loan also recently disclosed to the Federal Election Commission. Despite his pending trial on federal charges of fraud, conspiracy and lying to the FBI, the congressman’s brimming campaign kitty reminds everyone that he remains very much in the picture.
And then there’s David Bellavia, who won six of the district’s eight counties in the 2012 GOP primary against Collins. He has since earned widespread name recognition as a talk show co-host on WBEN Radio. And oh, yes: President Trump recently awarded him the Medal of Honor.
Most observers believe Bellavia can wait as long as late this year to enter the race, and then automatically emerge as a dominant figure.
Erie County Republicans are taking their time in determining who will replace new state Chairman Nick Langworthy as leader of the local organization. Party sources say Langworthy’s wife – Erin Baker – remains in the mix, but a host of family and professional considerations complicates the situation.
Contrary to past GOP transitions in Erie County, nobody waits in line as heir apparent.
Meanwhile, Langworthy’s new statewide duties took him to Israel last week as part of an annual trip led by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and paid for by the state committee.
“I wanted to send a strong and unequivocal message that the New York Republican Party stands with Israel,” Langworthy said. “We are making it crystal clear that we forcefully condemn the anti-Semitic rhetoric of Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and we will fight for the safety and security of the Jewish people in New York and across the world.”
These days, Langworthy’s circles extend way beyond his native South Dayton.