BUFFALO, N.Y. - There is a chance former Erie County Executive Chris Collins will try to get back into politics
2 On Your Side asked Collins about a possible run for the congressional seat currently held by Democrat Kathy Hochul. after multiple sources told us he was considering the idea.
"Because the district lines have yet to be drawn, there's presently no district to run in," said Collins. "However, in politics you never say 'never', and I'm always open to whatever opportunities may arise in the future."
Collins' response is a sharp contrast to what he said shortly after losing the Erie County Executive race to Mark Poloncarz in November. At that time, Collins said he had no plans of running for political office in the future.
Hochul currently holds the 26th Congressional District seat in New York State. It includes the communities of Amherst and Batavia. It is expected the Western New York area will lose a district when the lines are redrawn before the next election.
"If he jumps in he's all in. Certainly, this won't be a half hearted effort," said Erie County Legislator and Canisus College political science professor Kevin Hardwick.
Hardwick, a fellow Republican, notes that although Collins lost the County Executive's race, he carried 39 out of the 44 towns, villages, and cities within the county. He thinks that if the new congressional district boundary lines are drawn to create a district encompassing those areas, and Republican dominated counties to the east, Collins could be a force.
"He's someone with resources, instant name recognition, and someone that's done well in those parts of the county and probably would play well in a lot of the rural counties," Hardwick said.
And despite his recent loss, Hardwick says Collins shouldn't necessarily be considered "damaged goods".
"That cuts both ways. Obviously when you lose people could brand you that way. On the other hand, it can spur you on and he probably doesn't want to go out with that loss as the last line on his political resume."
When asked about the potential of Collins as her opponent, Hochul told WGRZ-TV, "It's fine. There's going to be an opponent and we're ready for it. This is America...there's usually someone on the Republican side and on the Democrat side running for positions and I feel very confident we've made some outstanding inroads since my election a few months ago."
The New York State Legislature and the Governor are charged with drawing up new congressional districts every ten years after census figures are compiled. So far they've yet to do so, and Hochul confirms she's hired someone to act as a lobbyist to "keep an eye on the process, and to look out for us in proposing a good district."
"Their fate really rests in the hands in the Legislature and the Governor who will draw those lines, and once they come out with those decisions then we'll see where the speculation goes," said Hardwick, adding, "wouldn't it be crazy if the two folks we once thought would run against each other for County Executive, end up running against each other for Congress? That really would be a race to watch!"
Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Bob Mancuso.
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