BUFFALO, N.Y. — On Friday, Congressman Chris Jacobs (R) NY-27 announced that he would not be seeking a reelection bid in New York's newly formed 23rd congressional district.
Jacobs said at a press conference that he made the decision after receiving criticism for changing his stance on gun control. He said it led to every Republican elected official withdrawing their support, as well as many Republican and Conservative committees.
"The last thing we need is a half truth-filled media attack funded by millions of special interest money coming into our community around this issue of guns and gun violence and gun control," Jacobs said.
The freshman Congressman currently serves as representative for the 27th Congressional district, which due to population loss and redistricting was eliminated. The constituents of NY-27 were redistributed across several new districts.
In mid-May Jacobs said he planned to run in the newly formed NY-23, which covers the Southern Tier and Southern Erie County. Friday was the last day Jacobs could decline the nomination and get his name off the ballot after already qualifying.
Last weekend, 2 On Your Side asked Jacobs about his new stance on gun control.
"We need to talk about some reasonable gun control, if an assault weapon ban were put on the floor I would vote for it," Jacobs said.
"I don't think it's going to happen so I will fight for other things too. Maybe you shouldn't be able to get an AR-15 until you're 21, not 18. You can't drink or smoke until 21, with this level of lethality it makes sense to have that. Most of these mass shooters are young men 18,19, 20, so it could really put a significant impact on deterring this at least to some extent."
Jacobs said his stance changed after talking to those directly impacted by the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas in recent weeks. The Republican party however started circulating petitions for candidates to primary against him.
"Despite the backlash, I truly believed that I could win this election, but it would be an incredibly divisive election for both the Republican party and the people of the 23rd district, many of whom I have not ever represented," Jacobs said at the press conference Friday.
Jacobs added that for the remainder of his time in office he wants to champion legislation that would limit body armor access or increase the age for owning an assault-style rifle.
"I think a Republican member entertaining co-sponsoring some actual gun control legislation has some sway," Jacobs said.
He did not say what his plans are after leaving Congress.
Some familiar political faces to Western New York had already started emerging in the race for the NY-23 following Jacobs' comments but Friday night Carl Paladino confirmed with 2 On Your Side that he would be running.
Petitions for New York State Republican Chair Nick Langworthy also started circulating this week, although he has not formally announced any plan to run. Langworthy did not return a request for comment Friday.
Republican Political Analyst Carl Calabrese thinks NY-23 will remain a Republican-held district but said he wouldn't be surprised if a Democratic candidate tried to throw their hat in the ring, especially given the already unorthodox election schedule.
"In terms of the shortness of time here and the ability to get out the vote in what is turning out to be a very confusing year as far as the political calendar and the changing of dates and petitions. A person like the state chairman [Langworthy] who was a former county chairman would have an awfully big advantage having people on the streets, making calls, getting republicans out," Calabrese said.
Whoever decides to run will have to file for primary ballot access by June 10 for the Congressional Primary on August 23.
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