Saying that his commitment to the US Army and to promote the Medal of Honor is greater than his desire to run for Congress, Award winner David Bellavia (R) announced yesterday that he will not enter the special election to replace resigned Rep. Chris Collins (R-Clarence). In the race are state Sens. Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo) and Robert Ortt (R-Tonawonda) along with attorney and former town judge Beth Parlato. With Mr. Bellavia yielding, we can now expect Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and state Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Albion) to also join the congressional field.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) must call the special election to replace Mr. Collins, but as yet has not set the calendar. Last time New York had a congressional vacancy, in 2017 when then-Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester) passed away, Gov. Cuomo kept the seat open until the regular election. He recently said that state law would not allow him to do so in this instance, even though he would like to make the vote concurrent with the regular election calendar.
State Sen. David Carlucci (D-Ossining), who was a founder of the independent group of Democratic Senators who voted in favor of a Republican chamber president in the previous legislative session, announced that he will enter the 2020 Democratic congressional primary in hopes of succeeding retiring Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Harrison). The seat is safely Democratic, so it remains to be seen if Carlucci could come through a party primary when the leadership could issue an official endorsement for one of his opponents.
The 17th will likely feature a crowded Democratic field, so a centrist coalition of primary voters could conceivably have the wherewithal to nominate Carlucci over a gaggle of more liberal candidates.
There has been much speculation that former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton would enter the open 17th Congressional District race now that veteran New York Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Harrison) is retiring. Appearing on The View program, Ms. Clinton indicated that while running for Congress could be on her personal horizon at some point in the future, she is not looking to run in 2020. She responded to Whoppi Goldberg’s question about whether she would become a candidate as saying, “…right now, the answer is no.”
Siena College surveyed the New York electorate (10/6-10; 742 NY registered voters; 340 NY registered Democratic voters) and found former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) locked in a flat tie at 21% apiece. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is a close third with 16%. New York has 273 first ballot delegates after gaining 49 more in a recent Democratic National Committee nomination process adjustment. The addition makes New York the second largest contingent at the Democratic National Convention. The largest state, California with 416 first ballot votes, is almost equally split among the three candidates according to the most recent primary polling.
House Appropriations Committee chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced yesterday that she will retire from her Westchester County anchored congressional seat at the end of this Congress. Rep. Lowey was originally elected in 1988 and will serve 32 years in the House when her current term concludes. The Congresswoman, 82 years of age, thanked her constituents in the retirement statement, but did not cite any particular reason for her decision not to seek re-election. The open 17th District will remain under Democratic control (Trump ’16: 38.4%). Ms. Lowey is the sixth House Democrat voluntarily leaving Congress. The total number of House open seats now grows to 25.
New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera (D), an ordained minister, is launching a Democratic primary challenge to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx). Three other Democrats are already in the primary race, but Mr. Cabrera is clearly the incumbent’s most credible opponent. The Republicans have eight announced candidates against the flamboyant freshman Congresswoman, but none have any chance. The 14th District is solidly Democratic (Trump ’16: 20%).
New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said yesterday that she will not return to her Upstate New York home and enter the special election for the congressional seat that she once held. The seat is vacant because Rep. Chris Collins (R-Clarence) resigned from Congress in order to plead guilty to a federal insider trading charge. Ms. Hochul won a 2011 special congressional election after then-Rep. Chris Lee (R) resigned the seat. She lost her bid for a full term in 2012 to Mr. Collins in the post-redistricting 27th CD. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) then selected her as his 2014 running mate.
At this point, Gov. Cuomo will schedule the special election. His first statements suggested that he may place it on the same ballot as the presidential primary, which is April 28th. He also indicated that he would like to schedule the special concurrently with the regular election cycle, but state law prohibits the seat from being vacant for such a long period.
Even before Rep. Collins resigned, state Sens. Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo) and Rob Ortt (R-Lockwood) announced they would run in the regular election, as did former town judge and attorney Beth Parlato (R). The 2018 Democratic nominee, local town supervisor Nate McMurray, is also an announced 2020 candidate. The respective political party leadership will choose their special election nominee in lieu of a primary.
GOP former Congresswoman Claudia Tenney announced yesterday that she will return for a re-match against the man who unseated her, freshman Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica). Though Ms. Tenney made some controversial statements during her tenure in office that contributed heavily toward her defeat after just two years in office, the race was still very close, 50.9 – 49.1%, a difference of 4,473 votes. NY-22 is the second strongest Trump district in the nation that a Democrat now represents, so it is highly likely the Brindisi-Tenney pairing will again be hotly contested.
Rep. Chris Collins (R-Clarence/ Batavia), who was indicted on insider trading charges last year for allegedly passing information about a company investment to his son, will reportedly agree to plead guilty today. Yesterday, he resigned from the House, meaning the 27th District is now vacant. Mr. Collins sent resignation letters to both Speaker Nancy Pelosi and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo informing them that he is immediately leaving office.
Gov. Cuomo has the power to call a replacement special election, but New York election law is rather ambiguous so it is unclear if and when the Governor will act. Last year, after the death of Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Mr. Cuomo allowed the Rochester area seat to remain vacant for almost a year in order to make the vote concurrent with the regular election. It is possible he could do the same in this instance.
A total of 219 House Democrats and one Independent have signed the petition pledge indicating they will vote for at least some version of an impeachment resolution. Doing so would impeach, or indict, the President, and send the charge to the Senate for a potential trial and motion to remove from office. Among the signers are several members who have competitive re-elections, are in Trump districts, or have primary competition. The lone Independent, Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI), will likely face attacks from both sides as he presumably seeks re-election as an Independent or minor party nominee.
The Democrats supporting impeachment who already face credible general election opposition are (listed alphabetically by name) Reps: Cindy Axne (IA), Gil Cisneros (CA), Sharice Davids (KS), Antonio Delgado (NY), Abby Finkenauer (IA), Lizzie Fletcher (TX), Andy Kim (NJ), Susie Lee (NV), Elaine Luria (VA), Tom Malinowski (NJ), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL), Chris Pappas (NH), Katie Porter (CA), Harley Rouda (CA), Elissa Slotkin (MI), Abigail Spanberger (VA), and Lauren Underwood (IL).
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