Patrick Gallivan (R) 59th State Senate seat
BUFFALO, NY -- Late Tuesday night, New York State Senator Patrick Gallivan issued a statement saying he's decided to forgo a race for Congress and instead will seek re-election in Albany.
"After consultation with my family and friends and supporters, I have decided that the Senate is still the place where I can be the most effective representative for the families and communities of Western New York," said the former Erie County Sheriff.
Starting Tuesday, congressional candidates in New York were able to start gathering petition signatures to get on the ballot, now that a three-judge panel has approved the district lines proposed by a Federal Magistrate earlier this month. This is expected to bring out a number of Republican challengers to incumbent Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-Amherst) in the new 27th District, as Hochul seeks re-election in what will be a largely Republican populated seat.
As of Monday morning there were no less than five interested in running, until that number dipped when former NYS Attorney General Dennis Vacco took himself out of consideration, citing family concerns.
"I feel I would have won," Vacco told Channel 2 in a phone interview from Chicago. "But I have two teenage sons who will soon be looking at colleges, and while I feel I could effectively serve in Congress, the sacrifice for my family would be too great at this time."
Iraq War veteran David Bellavia holds a distinction among potential GOP candidates, in that he's the only one who has never held elected office before.
"I think that's a positive thing," Bellavia told WGRZ-TV. One of the things I've been hearing from constituents all over the new district is they're looking for people that are not trying to buy their way to Washington and they're looking for fresh leadership," Bellavia said.
Money can't be ignored, however, according to another of those interested in the seat, John Mills, who currently serves as the Minority Leader in the Erie County Legislature.
"It's a matter of raising big dollars in a short period of time to make this happen...It's probably going to be close to $500,000 just to run in the primary," said Mills, who expects the winning candidate will spend between $3-4 million to emerge victorious in November.
Former Erie County Executive Chris Collins brings name recognition and money, while some pundits believe Former Erie County Sheriff and current NY State Senator Patrick Gallivan might pose the stiffest challenge to Hochul ...provided he enters the race,
Hochul isn't sweating over the situation, as she continues to make plans for a second term."They'll have a primary and I'll just sit and watch that process play its way out," Hochul told Two On Your Side, while noting she also had an enrollment disadvantage, when she won the seat in last year's special election against Jane Corwin.
"I wouldn't be here if many Republicans didn't support me as well Independents, Democrats, and members of the Working Families party. I've already demonstrated that I have crossover appeal, now I've had ten solid months to meet people...and I've had a chance to talk to many more people than I did in that short (last year's special election) cycle, so I feel very good about our chances," Hochul said.
No matter who emerges as the GOP candidate you can expect one thing.
A lot of money coming in from both the Republican and Democratic National Committees, as the GOP seeks to re-claim the turf it has historically held, hold, and the Democrats who'll try and keep them from wresting it away.
Click on the video player to watch our story from Two On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Norm Fisher from Eden.
Click here to read Dave McKinley's blog.