A new website launched Tuesday morning is encouraging local Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia to run for Congress. Bellavia previously ran for New York’s 27th congressional seat in 2012, but does this mean another run in 2020 is on the horizon?
DraftBellavia.com lays out the potential candidate’s stance on standard campaign issues from tax reform to health care and immigration. But Bellavia has nothing to do with the website, according to his former campaign manager and Republican political strategist Michael Caputo, to whom the site is registered.
“I know David well,” Caputo told WBFO. “A lot of this is based on the 2012 website. Many of the issues haven’t changed. And after speaking with David on a regular basis for seven years after [the 2012 campaign], I know exactly where he stands.”
Bellavia is currently serving a tour of active duty with the U.S. Army. As such, he is prohibited by the Hatch Act of getting involved in certain partisan political activities—including running for office.
“It’s important that David stay as far away from this as he can,” said Caputo. “I’m sure the Department of the Army is looking at this and making sure that it’s within the parameters of the law, but I know what I’m doing here. David knows what he’s doing, and the most important thing to understand is that there is no coordination. In fact, there’s almost no conversation.”
Caputo added that, “from here forward,” he and Bellavia will “limit or even eliminate” their communication.
New York's 27th Congressional District spans much of Western New York, including parts or all of Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Monroe, Livingston and Ontario counties. The mostly rural and suburban district was a Trump stronghold in 2016, and it has been represented in Congress by Republican Chris Collins since 2013. Bellavia ran against Collins in the Republican primary in 2012.
The Buffalo News also reported that Bellavia talked to county leaders about challenging Collins for his seat in 2018 after the representative was arrested and charged with insider trading. Bellavia did not run, and Collins narrowly won reelection over Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray (D) despite the charges.
The new website is asking Western New Yorkers who want to see a 2020 run by Bellavia—a Lyndonville native and WBEN radio host—to submit their email addresses and zip codes. It is not currently asking for financial contributions.
“If David Bellavia decides to run for Congress he needs to have a virtual campaign already set up,” Caputo said. “He needs to have a list of supporters. He needs to understand where his donations will come from. That’s what a draft is for.”
Bellavia himself neither confirmed or denied whether he plans to run for Congress in interviews with The Buffalo News before he received the Medal of Honor on June 25. WBFO reached out to Bellavia for comment about the new website, but he has not yet responded.
Caputo estimated that there’s a 50/50 chance the celebrated service member will run. But he also said Congress might be “shooting low” for Bellavia.
“You know, Teddy Roosevelt took the Medal of Honor all the way to the White House.”