Erie County Conservatives have made the struggle for Chris Collins' old congressional district even more tangled, choosing Beth Parlato as the party choice for the seat.
The special election to fill the seat has not yet been called by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but there is a tense struggle to win and then carry that victory flag through the June 23 primary election and into the Nov. 3 general election. That's in a presidential election year.
Cuomo has indicated he will call the special election for April 28, the day of the presidential primaries. Republicans have chosen Sen. Chris Jacobs as their candidate for the seat and Democrats have picked Nate McMurray for a second shot at the seat.
Conservatives won't back Jacobs. Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph Lorigo said his party leaders back lawyer and Fox News commentator Parlato.
"The choice right now has not been Chris Jacobs. And so, we certainly don't want Nate McMurray to be successful, even for a short time, in that congressional district. That district certainly isn't a fit for Nate McMurray. So we're staying out of the special election," Lorigo said. "We have endorsed for the primary, which will be the November general election."
Lorigo said Parlato is a strong candidate who has raised a lot of money for what will likely be an expensive series of races in two media markets in what he calls the "deepest red" congressional district in New York.
"This is a difficult seat. I've been chairman for 26 years. I've been chairman through a number of people holding this seat and I think it's a good thing to be inclusive. I think it's an excellent thing to have a woman's perspective in this particular seat and she has all of the other excellent qualities along with that and that was the choice," Lorigo said.
Besides Parlato, the Conservative Executive Committee also interviewed Jacobs, North Tonawanda Sen. Rob Ortt and Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw. The State Conservative Party makes the final decisions and Lorigo is state vice-chairman.
"We try to mirror the district. We look at candidates. We had 26 individuals listen to these four candidates. They were all excellent candidates," he said. "It's not that I have a negative thing to say about any one of them. But, again, it's a question of fitting the candidate to the district with all those other qualities."