The Buffalo News – A busy start to fall political season

The Buffalo News – A busy start to fall political season

By Robert J. McCarthy Updated September 3, 2019

It’s Labor Day Weekend – traditional kickoff of the fall political season. And while “normal” New Yorkers enjoy holiday picnics or maybe just lament summer’s end, the pols are gearing up for November 2019 and even November 2020.

Here’s a rundown of recent doings:

  • Jerry Zremski’s Wednesday story in The Buffalo News examines preliminary arguments surrounding Rep. Chris Collins’ trial on insider trading charges slated for early February. These are key elements not only in the congressman’s legal dilemma, but in the 2020 race for his 27th Congressional District as well.

That’s because if Collins’ trial begins in February as planned, and the constitutional arguments upon which he relies prevail, he could conceivably (and we emphasize “conceivably”) be acquitted by the time congressional designating petitions begin circulating on Feb. 26. If he’s convicted, the House of Representatives will boot him anyway, and a wide open GOP primary ensues.

Collins, you can be sure, remains very much aware of the numbers collected one month ago by veteran Buffalo pollster Barry Zeplowitz showing his 60% approval rating among likely Republican primary voters – even while under federal indictment. He could run again, and is very much floating that possibility.

Indeed, he cited the Zeplowitz poll in a recent fundraising appeal. He points to the bulge he maintains over State Sen. Chris Jacobs, who has already launched his own 2020 effort to replace Collins. It offers another chance for Collins to hang his “never-Trumper” tag on Jacobs (an accusation that PolitiFact New York ruled false) in a district where President Trump enjoys an 81% approval rating.

“It’s clear that voters are still looking for a Representative who supports President Trump like I do,” Collins says in his letter to supporters and in a preview of the possible primary ahead.

  • Still on the 27th Congressional District, Darien attorney Beth Parlato may be proving her competitiveness in the growing field of Republicans anxious to succeed Collins. She has told key supporters in recent days that she raised $100,000 since announcing less than a month ago.
  • Frank Smierciak, a 28-year-old health care company employee from Lancaster, is also hoping to qualify for the GOP 27th District primary next year. A graduate of St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute with a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University at Buffalo, Smierciak says Congress needs “regular people” like him rather than more lawyers and professional pols.

“I assume I won’t get very far with them,” he said of the district’s GOP leaders, and will instead rely on petitions after falling short during a 2018 effort to challenge Collins.

  • Another 2020 contest already under way surrounds the 60th State Senate, now represented by Republican Jacobs before he runs for Congress next year. Assemblyman Sean Ryan (who has recently hired New York City fundraiser Stephanie Berger) is emerging as an early favorite to regain the seat for the Democrats, but he may not be alone.

Delaware Council Member Joel Feroleto is also eyeing the Senate, but is lying low as he runs unopposed this year for re-election to City Hall. The council member will be considered a formidable contender in a district with a long history of Italian-American winners. He comes from a political family (his mother is Paula Feroleto, administrative justice for State Supreme Court’s Eighth District), and is well known at least in the district’s Buffalo portion.

“After the November election, I will consider all available options,” is all Feroleto is saying now.

  • Back to an actual 2019 contest: Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of Saratoga County highlights a Wednesday fundraiser at Templeton Landing for GOP county executive candidate Lynne Dixon. Stefanik, who at 30 was the youngest woman ever elected to the House when she first won in 2014, is considered a rising GOP star.

Dixon campaign sources say the candidate has already filmed TV ads for later airing, but needs a successful affair on Wednesday plus many more for the funds she needs in her underdog effort against Democratic incumbent Mark Poloncarz.

Read the full article here.