Kathy Hochul vs. Chris Collins
by Alan Bedenko
It’s the 2011 Erie County executive race that wasn’t, resurrected. It’s a chance for the popular Democratic incumbent in Republican district, Kathy Hochul, to campaign not only in her former home base of Hamburg but throughout a district that she’s served eagerly and well, while her wealthy Republican opponent, Chris Collins—who lost the Erie County executive race that was to a Democrat many felt to be a weaker opponent than Hochul—tries to rally the GOP base.
As was expected, David Bellavia did quite well in Tuesday’s GOP primary Monroe County and in the GLOW counties—Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, and Wyoming—but Collins obliterated him in Erie and Niagara Counties.
And when I say “obliterated,” I mean that fewer than 8,000 people voted in Erie County, and 2,759 people voted in Niagara County. The total vote count was about 19,000 throughout the 27th Congressional District.
Overall, Collins beat Bellavia with about 10,800 votes, or 60 percent of the vote. If you subtract Erie and Niagara Counties, Collins received about 2,960 votes, and Bellavia received about 4,500; Bellavia beat Collins everywhere else 61 percent to 39 percent.
This reveals a few ugly truths about the Buffalo media market. Firstly, the only thing that matters to the Republican Party in Erie and Niagara Counties is money. It’s why they’ve aggressively courted the Independence and Conservative Parties to act as their surrogates. It’s why they’ve turned over the reins of the party to people like Collins and Carl Paladino—brash people who get their way repeatedly because the eyes of GOP party hacks turn into dollar signs whenever they flash their bankrolls.
Chris Collins is planning on regurgitating his “brighter future” catchphrase—a promise he sure as hell didn’t fulfill while acting as county executive. In fact, he went out of his way during that time to give comfort to his conservative, suburban, well-off base, and to do harm to the urban poor on whom he didn’t rely, and about whom he gives no thought. The only thing missing now is his messianic Six Sigma nonsense. Perhaps he can learn lessons, after all.
But I tend to doubt it. What his primary against Bellavia showed is that he’s going to run exactly the same race against Hochul that he ran against Mark Poloncarz, and that Jane Corwin ran against Hochul. It’s going to be an expensive race where the candidate avoids voters, doesn’t listen, parks in handicapped spots, runs to the front of parades, insults random people, and does everything in his power not to debate his opponent.
I look forward to hearing more about fiscal restraint from a guy who proudly describes how he started his business by maxing out his credit cards. You think Collins can score points against Hochul for being a tax-and-spend liberal? What does that make Collins? He likes to say he’s looking out for the taxpayers, but he raised taxes and went to court to prevent the legislature from reducing those hikes. Although he says he’s careful with our money, he spent millions on his friends and cronies, without regard to results or merit. Although Collins likes to say he’s a good government type, he repeatedly and brazenly violated the county charter by failing to issue monthly budget monitoring reports. A brighter future? For four years he maintained the status quo when it comes to attracting and keeping businesses in western New York, eschewing the notion of IDA consolidation.
Literally within moments of the AP calling the race for Collins last night, Hochul’s campaign released this:
Chris Collins has made it a hallmark of his campaign to avoid taking positions on key issues. But one thing is clear, Mr. Collins supports Paul Ryan’s budget; a plan that turns Medicare into a voucher program and makes seniors pay $6,400 more for their Medicare benefits to fund tax cuts for multi-millionaires. He has even has said that it does not go far enough.
It is time that Chris Collins comes clean with voters about his plans to take the Ryan’s budget further. What more could he do on top of decimating Medicare and protecting the super rich? We hope that now that he is the nominee he willing to answer questions on the issues that matter most to the people of the 27th district.
Yes, it’s exactly a re-litigation of an issue that heated up during the May 2011 special election that Hochul won against Corwin. It’s an argument that Hochul wins handily, because Medicare is ridiculously popular and efficient, and there’s no reason to destroy it and yank it away from anyone alive today—whether it be seniors already enjoying Medicare, or every American now living and expecting it will still be available when they become seniors.
Let’s talk about Obamacare, which the hyper-partisan conservative-activist Roberts court may repeal or effectively cripple. People like Collins will cheer that result but offer absolutely no reasonable alternative. To people like Collins, our healthcare insurance system is just fantastic. The poor should lose their Medicaid, though. And the old should have to pay more for Medicare. That way, we can afford more tax cuts for multimillionaires in Spaulding Lake. That way, we can maybe fight another war. Maybe in Iran.
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