Originally published on February 25, 2020 on politicsandstuff.com
The race for Congress in NY27 is attracting lots of attention. Even Donald Trump, busy pardoning and setting free various criminals, has found time to become familiar with it. The reason for the attention to the district, the reddest of the red in New York State and a seat that should be a slam dunk for the Republicans, is that they almost lost it sixteen months ago.
Former Congressman Chris Collins was seriously wounded by his indictment on charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to the FBI but he lingered on for ten months, propped up by local Trumpsters who worked to convince voters that there was nothing wrong with electing a member of Congress who appeared more destined to be serving out a prison term than a congressional term.
We are now being treated to a NY27 three-act show this year – a special election, a Republican primary, and then the grand finale on November 3rd. To make it even better, the first two acts overlap.
Immediately after the indictment, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw began trailing Collins everywhere, attempting to make it look like he was the heir apparent. Nobody seems to have taken that seriously. Mychajliw didn’t even bother to set up a congressional campaign committee or raise money until just recently. He reports that he now has $30,000 in his account, but we will need to see the next Federal Election Commission report to get the details.
Mychajliw’s hope has been compounded by his expectation/dream that the right-wing Club for Growth would take care of such things for him. But even if they did so, they could not coordinate with a candidate. The Club will, if it chooses to get involved, mostly run ads attacking Jacobs, which would generically benefit anyone not named Jacobs. The Republican primary is less than 120 days away, but how Mychajliw would finance ads directly promoting himself is not clear.
Meanwhile, Senator Chris Jacobs, who has previously played the role of nice moderate Republican, has morphed into the role of the tough all-in-for-Trump guy. That costume doesn’t fit well, but fortunately Jacobs can afford personal tailoring to make it look good.
[B]eing a moderate Republican, I think what I worry about – and this hasn’t been just this year, it’s been a trend – is the pull from the extremes on probably both parties.
You see this year , of course, there was not a Democratic primary for president. There was for the Republicans, which we saw ended up pulling everybody to the right. And I think that that seems to be more of a trend and seems to be more polarized, and I think it seems to be that generally what happens is those issues that are discussed – not that they’re not important – but certain issues, such as social issues, take an overwhelming precedence over other issues, which I think the majority of people want to hear more discussed and want to hear more focus on…
So I think that the concern I have is that continuing trend – and it’s on both sides, but you’re asking me about my party – is causing polarization of the party, turn off of the electorate. It’s kind of a bit of a self-fulfilling thing because more people if you talk about the nastiness of the primaries happen on both sides this year. That tends to turn off the general public to be involved with politics at all, not even voting. And what happens is there’s a smaller amount of people involved in elections and it tends to cause this issue of going outwardly more extreme…
Another factor in this year’s election is that Republican women are pretty scarce in Congress – just 13 of the 101 women in the House of Representatives are Republicans, and two of them are leaving at the end of this year. Kathy Hochul briefly served in the predecessor to the current NY27 district; she is the only woman to ever hold the seat. Beth Parlato has Fox News credentials that have undoubtedly helped her raise money, but she has never run for an office beyond the tiny town of Darien. Is she ready for prime time?
The Conservatives poked their heads into the NY27 show and immediately looked for a way out because they like Parlato but they know they cannot win a showdown in this contest on their line alone. So while Parlato is technically the Party’s candidate in November, she and they seem content to have her serve as a stand-in for a possible future date in time when the Party swallows its collective pride and switches their support from the conservative placeholder woman to the not-conservative-enough Jacobs.
Meanwhile, the Democratic candidate, Nate McMurray, has been on a Twitter storm, attacking and mocking all things in his sight. To top it off, he has been attacking his own employer, Delaware North, since the family who owns the business is related to his Republican opponent. The attack has many politicos scratching their heads about his thinking. His complaints about his employer don’t seem to be going anywhere.
Finally Donald Trump has weighed in to designate Jacobs as his guy in the special election. Mychajliw and Parlato have suggested the endorsement is only for the short-term, and that Trump could jump to support one of them against Jacobs in the June primary. They don’t seem to understand that when the leader of their Party is challenged he likes to double down on his original position.
Holding the special election on April 28th, the same day when the Democratic Party will hold its hotly contested presidential primary, should benefit McMurray, but he will still find it hard to compete with both Jacobs’ money and Trump’s endorsement. At the end of the 2020 campaign season the most likely outcomes may be victories for Jacobs in the special election, the Republican primary and the general election in November. Then after two years there will be no more NY27 and the fun can start all over again.
Ken Kruly writes about politics and other stuff at politicsandstuff.com.
This article was re-published with permission. Photo by Joakim Honkasalo