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Democrats target Collins' Congressional seat

Congressman Chris Collins

A local Democratic coalition says there has been an unprecedented level of interest from potential candidates in a local congressional race.

Democratic county chairs and grassroots leaders from the 27th Congressional district met in Batavia last week with seven of ten prospective candidates who have expressed an interest in running for the seat currently held by Republican Chris Collins.

"Usually we are saying 'Please, someone, run against Chris Collins,' and this year we have people saying 'I want to run against Chris Collins' all over the district," said Livingston County Democratic chair Judith Hunter. While she said it's too early in the process to identify any potential candidate, those who have showed interest are both political newcomers and individuals with experience. 

Democrats, Hunter said, are energized to become more engaged in politics following the election of President Trump.

Hunter sees Collins' refusal to hold town hall meetings, his support of the American Health Care Act, and his devotion to President Trump as ways in which he would be vulnerable in a bid for re-election.

"And that makes the enthusiasm to support a candidate against him much stronger than it ordinarily would have been. Up until now, he was kind of a generic Republican. And then he found Donald Trump."

In February, 2016, Collins became the first sitting member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump in his presidential campaign. 

For the 2018 election, Hunter said Democrats are searching for a candidate whose main goal is to serve the 27th congressional district, which she said has suffered economically.

"We are accustomed to representatives who see their primary constituency as their national party instead of the people of this district, and that is such a disservice to the voters. We have farmers who are struggling; we have people who have been displaced by the loss of manufacturing. There are some really, really tough circumstances in this district and we need people who are fighting for us."

Hunter said she expects to see more potential candidates emerge in the coming weeks.  People sometimes assume, she said, that if they aren’t wealthy or move among the wealthy, they can’t run for congress, but local Democratic Party leaders have established a grassroots nominee fund to raise money for the campaign.

The Chris Collins campaign issued this response:

"Chris Collins understands the values of his district and has fought on their behalf in Congress.  A pile of resumes from out of touch ultra progressives won't change the fact that this district believes in smaller government, less regulations and protecting Constitutional freedoms. Chris Collins shares those principles which is why his constituents reelected him with over 65% of the vote just six months ago."