State Senator Chris Jacobs announced Friday he is running for Congress, eyeing the 27th District and saying the man holding that seat now, Chris Collins, is ineffective in light of his pending legal problems. Jacobs' announcement drew scorn from not only Collins but also another potential challenger.
The State Senator tells WBFO he means no disrespect toward Collins, but points to the latter's federal indictment and upcoming federal trial. Collins was arrested in 2018 and charged with insider trading and lying to the FBI.
"The fact of the matter is, he's dealing with a major legal dilemma here an 11-count indictment," Jacobs said. "He's not able to serve this district currently as a congressman should. He's not able to be on committees right now. We deserve a congressman who can do what a congressman does and have the wherewithal to serve on committees, have the power that we need up here, to represent us fully."
Jacobs, who previously served as Erie County Clerk and sat on the Buffalo Board of Education, points to 30 years of business experience and his formation of a scholarship program, the BISON Fund, as a demonstration of his skills and achievements.
Collins, despite his federal indictment, won re-election in 2018 by defeating Democrat Nathan McMurray by just under 1,400 votes.
He released the following statement: "While I haven't made a final decision on running for re-election, the last thing we need in this seat is a never-Trump Republican who supports abortion rights and has supported savings plans and taxpayers funded legal aid for illegal immigrants. That would be the same as electing a Democrat. I ran for re-election to assure that President Trump had an ally in this seat. The President can count on me to assure he has an ally in 2020."
Echoing Collins' criticism of Jacobs was Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, who has not formally announced his own run for the seat but has been busy in recent months meeting with political leaders and constituents to build support. He says he will not let any other candidate dictate his decision to run, and he won't allow Jacobs to force his hand.
"I've traveled to every corner of the district, talking to town chairs, county chairs, taxpayers, farmers," Mychajliw said. "They are very conservative and they are big supporters of President Trump. Chris Jacobs is a never-Trumper, he is pro-abortion, pro-illegal immigrant and he's got a lot of explaining to do in New York 27."
Jacobs insists he is a Republican and a conservative who wants to keep the 27th District in GOP hands but he is also a pragmatist.
"All those accusations are simply not true," he said. "I support the president and I'm pro-life. I know Mr. Collins is frustrated. He's under indictment. Stefan is very close with Mr. Collins, worked for him, and is kind of carrying the water there. But I'm not about criticizing people. I'm about moving forward."