Former Erie County Executive Chris Collins has clearly glided past former Iraq War veteran David Bellavia in the Republican primary for the 27th Congressional District.
In Erie County with 94% of the votes counted, Collins held a major lead with 74% to Bellavai's 26% of the vote.
After losing a hard-fought race for a second term as Erie County executive, Collins earned vindication Tuesday night in the race for the GOP nod against Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Hochul in what is a heavily-Republican district.
Collins been running harder against Hochul and President Obama than against Bellavia and built his victory margin on a good turnout in Erie County in a low-turnout race. Surrounded by his family and speaking to cheering supporters in Depew's Twin Village V-F-W post, Collins saw his victory in American terms.
“I am honored to be the nominee, and this November, we will continue that record, of strong Republican leadership in Washington.” Collins said, “Our campaign will be the issues, the messaging, contrasting my conservative Republican message, with her being a Barack Obama Democrat.
Collins says his background as county executive, cutting debt, cutting workers and cutting taxes is ideal for what needs to be done in Washington.
Speaking to supporters in Batavia, Bellavia says the fight with Collins won't tear the party apart for November.
"I spoke to Mr. Collins and I congratulated him and I can tell you something right now, we are going to lock shields as a party," said Bellavia. "And we will defeat President Barack Obama on November 6th and we will beat Representative Kathy Hochul.
Shortly after Collins delivered his victory speech, Hochul's campaign manager issued the following statement calling on Collins to "come clean" with voters:
Statement from Campaign Manager Frank Thomas:
"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.”