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NY-27 Republican Primary: TODAY

It’s astonishing to me that David Bellavia challenged Chris Collins to a series of 8 debates over 90 days ago, and not a single one took place. The best Collins could do was to get some supporters of his to stage a set-up in Clarence, so he wouldn’t have to go far and he’d have an exceedingly friendly audience and sponsoring organization. 

Collins’ chickenshit refusal to debate his opponent is simply unbelievable to me. Debating issues is, frankly,  the bright, shining light in the otherwise tough slog of campaigning. Going door-to-door and attending chicken dinners is important and all, but the payoff is the ability to use your rhetorical skills, power of persuasion, and debate with your opponent the matters that are important to voters. 

Chris Collins was reluctant to debate Mark Poloncarz in 2011, agreeing only to a single televised debate, and a daytime debate at a high school where his campaign brazenly broke a “no videotaping” rule. He was even less willing to debate Bellavia, to whom the nomination was promised when he stepped aside to give the seat to Chris Lee in 2008. 

The history of the Erie County Republican Committee and David Bellavia has been replete with broken promises and backstabbing. If Bellavia wins today, it would vindicate him and send a message to the ECGOP that sometimes, honor trumps money. 

And that’s sort of shorthand for Bellavia’s appeal. Sometimes, honor trumps money. You don’t have to agree with everything – or anything – for which Bellavia stands. What I do know is that a Bellavia vs. Hochul race will be a better, more honest brawl than Hochul vs. Collins. The latter, however, would be a bigger boon to anyone who makes money off of campaign advertisements. 

I’ve watched this NY-27 race from its inception and I’ve seen Bellavia has done the hard work. He’s talked to voters – but more importantly, he’s listened, too. He is a guy who thinks Washington is broken and wants to change things and make a difference. I have to respect that, and if I was a Republican living in this district, I’d choose that over the chickenshit bully millionaire political hobbyist. 

So, if you live in the district shown below, and you’re a registered Republican or Conservative, please vote for David Bellavia and put Chris Collins out of the politics business. 


Chris Collins’ Internet Inefficiencies

ICYMI on Saturday, the Buffalo News’ Jerry Zremski wrote a piece about NY-27 detailing some of Chris Collins’ online travails, including the fact that his campaign website appeared absolutely nowhere on Google – something that’s been known for weeks, but not repaired.  

Perhaps he should have set up a Six Sigma inquisition into a more efficient way to set up and promote his web presence. 

What does show up when you Google “Collins for Congress”?  This website, prepared by a Florida Tea Party website, which details a variety of reasons why Collins is horrible. 

The Republican primary to select the candidate who will take on Kathy Hochul in November takes place this Tuesday. There seems to be a wide enthusiasm gap between Bellavia’s and Collins’ supporters, but Collins is out-spending Bellavia, at least as far as mailers are concerned – one political activist in the GLOW counties says it’s a 4:0 split. Collins is relying on money and mailers to get his message out, while Bellavia has been out pounding the pavement and shaking hands. Tuesday, we’ll see which one prevails. 


Enter: Chicken

Michael R. Caputo is an advisor to David Bellavia and his campaign for Congress from NY-27. Many months ago, they proposed a series of debates with primary opponent Chris Collins, and as of this writing Collins has agreed only to two – one with YNN, and one with some Republican women voter organization in Clarence that supports Collins  UPDATE: Collins has agreed to exactly zero debates. Firstly, Collins has not agreed to participate in a YNN televised debate on June 18th.  Collins’ people suggested one, singular debate to take place in Clarence and be hosted by something called the “Erie County Republican Women’s Federation.”  However, the League of Women Voters advised that ECRWF would not have hosted a debate, but instead an ambush – a supposed “debate” on Collins’ home turf, a curated crowd packed with Collins loyalists, and recruiting former “Reform Coalution” Collins loyalist Lynne Dixon to “moderate” it. Collins’ people refused to negotiate changes to make the ECRWF “debate” a fair event. Indeed, the ECRWF is a wholly new creation. It has no online presence, it has no transparency regarding its membership, funding, officers, or directors.  The woman who is sending out press releases on its behalf is an Erie County GOP loyalist and has given thousands to the county committee, local committees, as well as to Dixon and Collins

During Paladino’s primary campaign against Rick Lazio, when the Long Island Republican refused to debate Carl, Caputo sent out a guy in a chicken suit to graphically tease the candidate about his reluctance to debate. If I’m not mistaken, there was also a duck suit utilized against Cuomo regarding “ducking” issues. 

And so it is that a volunteer in a chicken suit set up a roost at the Main Street entrance to the tony, exclusive Spaulding Lake development in Clarence that’s home to doctors, sports figures, and the Collins and Corwin families, to name a few. The chicken taunted Collins for his unwillingness to debate Bellavia – an unwillingness that’s reminiscent of every recent race Collins had run; negotiating debate terms with his campaigns appears sometimes less difficult and circuitous than negotiating a cessation of nuclear activity for food aid with North Korea. 

I don’t get why that is. Collins doesn’t do poorly in debates. After all, he merely has to parrot his campaign themes and generic, crony capitalist, nouveau riche noblesse oblige talking points and denigrate his opponent. Easy peasy. But given Collins’ reluctance to debate, meet, or glad-hand, it could come down to one thing: Collins doesn’t feel comfortable asking for votes to which he thinks he is already entitled. 

Why shouldn’t you vote for – or pay attention to – Collins’ campaign to attain the only type of nobility America offers

Collins is nothing more than an old-fashioned tax & spend liberal. Although Collins likes to say he’s looking out for the taxpayers, he’s raised taxes on us, and gone to court to prevent the legislature from keeping those hikes lower. Although he says he’s careful with our money, he’s spent millions on hisfriends and cronies, without regard to results or merit. Although Collins likes to seem as if he’s a good government type, he’s in ongoing violation of the county charter in terms of providing monthly budget monitoring reports. Although Collins says he’s trying to create a brighter future, he maintains the tired, failed status-quo when it comes to attracting and keeping businesses in western New York; he eschews the notion of IDA consolidation, and hasn’t set up a one-stop-shop for businesses to use when considering a move to our region.

For someone who promised to run the county like a business, why has he behaved like that?

The chicken? Naturally, it has its own Twitter account, and last night it taunted Collins with this (click on the link to see the picture): 

.@ I missed you at your first debate tonight Chris! #NY27 http://t.co/Z2Z7aA2F
@ChickenCollins
Chicken Collins

 Bellavia’s campaign released this Tuesday morning: 

Two leading Republican County Chairmen in New York’s 27th Congressional District today called upon GOP candidates David Bellavia and Chris Collins to accept a debate invitation from Time Warner Cable’s news affiliate, YNN, for June 18.

Bellavia accepted the YNN debate on June 5 – the same day it was offered. Since he was invited, Collins has ignored e-mails, letters, and telephone calls from YNN executives.

“I think it’s important for both candidates to give Republicans across the entire district an opportunity to hear where they stand on the issues – face to face, in a fair debate, on television,” Orleans County Republican Committee Chairman Ed Morgan said. “David Bellavia and Chris Collins must expose Primary voters to their views under those circumstances or the election will see record low turnout and the 27th District will be poorly served. The only opportunity to accomplish this is the YNN debate on June 18.”

“The Republican voters of the 27th District deserve a televised debate to see the candidates and understand their positions on important issues,” Wyoming County Republican Chairman Gordon Brown said. “I personally call on David and Chris to commit to a televised debate in which the entire district can be reached – including the more than 60 percent of voters living outside Erie County. Mailers and signs are not enough. I have had the opportunity to speak with both candidates on several occasions – let’s afford all Republican voters a similar opportunity to hear from them.”

On May 24, the Erie County Republican Women’s Federation (ECRWF) invited both Mr. Collins and Bellavia to debate in Clarence on June 19. Subsequently, the Bellavia campaign was advised by the League of Women Voters of Buffalo-Niagara that the ECRWF debate was by no mans fair and no candidate should agree to the wholly one-sided terms. Since then, the Bellavia campaign reached out to the Collins campaign to negotiate fair changes in the ECRWF event. The Collins campaign refused this opportunity, choosing instead to insist upon the rules they dictated.

“Seventy seven days ago, I called for a series of eight debates in the eight counties of the 27th District. But Mr. Collins has run out the clock,” Bellavia said.

“The televised YNN debate would allow both of us the opportunity to show Republicans across the entire district what we stand for and what we believe in just one debate. I don’t control it; Mr. Collins doesn’t control it. It’s 100 percent neutral and that’s what the voters deserve,” Bellavia said.


The Clumsy Swift-Boating of David Bellavia

Apropos of very little indeed, the Buffalo News yesterday painted a damning picture of David Bellavia’s results in setting up organizations to “return dignity to military service” by promoting military service to students, and also by setting up a summer camp for returning veterans’ kids, among other things. Unfortunately, sometimes our best-laid plans don’t quite work out the way we want.  I don’t want to fall back on the “he tried” excuse that we so often lean on here in WNY, but Bellavia has proven – in politics as in veterans’ services – that fundraising isn’t as easy as it seems, or as easy as it is for others. 

What this is, is a swift-boating; taking Bellavia’s big strength – proud veteran who has worked to help veterans since returning to civilian life – and attacking just that. It’s what they did to Jon Powers in 2008, it’s what I predicted many months ago they’d do to David Bellavia. This failure of Bellavia’s doesn’t reflect poorly on his character or his ability to lead. It doesn’t reflect poorly on anything but his ability to raise money for a charity, which may be a skill he needs to run for office, but has nothing to do with his qualifications or platform for Congress. 

It’s more likely than not a story that someone close to the Collins campaign shopped to the News, which interviewed some people and ran with the story, despite the fact that it’s somewhat irrelevant.  The “they” in 2008 were Jack Davis and Bob McCarthy – money, influence, and the printing press. The “they” in 2012 are Chris Collins and Jerry Zremski. 

I’m surprised that Jerry Zremski wrote it, and not Bob McCarthy. However, the Buffalo News’ website shows that McCarthy’s most recent article was published on May 27th. He must be on vacation from taking calls. Doing campaigns’ dirty work is Bob’s job. Back in 2009, I gave campaigns this advice, calling it Powers’ Law

If you’re a political candidate, and you get a call from the Buffalo News’ Bob McCarthy, and he informs you that he’s going to run a story the next day that accuses you of horrible moral turpitude (e.g., you stole money from Iraqi orphans or you’re a racist), you absolutely cannot issue a limp rebuttal and pretend like it will all just blow over.

You have to address the allegation head on, strongly, to take control of the narrative as soon as possible, otherwise your silence/tepid response will be interpreted as a concession of the accusation’s truth.

Not that it was necessarily going to change the outcome, but Michele Iannello broke this law with the WFP/racism charges of [2009].  Yes, it may have hurt her chances last night, but more importantly it probably put an end to her career in politics, full stop.

On the other hand, little dumb stuff like, e.g.,  property taxes paid late is ok to ignore until it blows over.

Powers’ Law came about after Clarence millionaire Jack Davis (who is, incidentally, now supporting Bellavia) went to “Sleepy Bob” McCarthy with a story that Jon Powers’ “War Kids” charity had paid him a salary. (The figures that were being thrown around were completely false). War Kids was Powers’ most significant accomplishment as a veteran, and it was part of his appeal, so when his opponents characterized it as a money grab, it was devastating. 

It was devastating because Powers’ campaign didn’t respond quickly or strongly enough, and it left the Netroots without material for rebuttal. When those facts came along, it was too little, too late. The meme had been set, and the damage had been done. And the reason why it was happening? Because Jack Davis wasn’t happy that Powers was gaining traction in the Democratic primary race, and had to destroy him. He spent tons of money to do so, as is his wont. They both ultimately lost to the late Alice Kryzan, who lost her battle with cancer earlier this week, and Chris Lee went on to embarrass himself in Washington. 

The district ended up losing. 

But Davis’ behavior is something Collins is more than willing and able to emulate. Like Davis, Collins is also a hyperwealthy Clarence resident who feels that he’s entitled to a Congressional seat by right and entail, rather than on merit and fair play. So, while Bellavia gains traction in the newly constituted NY-27, and Collins finds that the only friendly places he can find are ones who are somehow dependent – directly or indirectly – on his largesse, Collins’ people are turning to the Buffalo News to do their dirty work for them. 

As a blogger, I am a commentator – I wear my opinions and biases on my sleeve and make no excuses for them.

What was the newsworthiness of this story about Bellavia, yet the News has completely ignored the story about Collins using his publicly owned office to conduct sleazy private business?

I’m a liberal blogger. What’s the News’ excuse? 

 


Chris Collins: Excellence

1. Good luck finding Collins’ campaign website. Searches on Google for “Collins for Congress“, “Collins for Congress 2012“, or “Chris Collins for Congress” reveal no relevant hits on the first page of results. 

2. Collins released a “Small Business Bill of Rights”, a set of talking points masquerading as policy proposals, wrapped up in a faux parchment wrapper.  He released it on Wednesday, and a glaring error – uncaught through Eagle eyes or Six Sigma process review – remains evident there today. 

Click to Enlarge

3. David Bellavia, who is running in a Republican primary against Collins, called this out as blatant plagiarism.  He noted that former NY-26 Congressman Chris Lee was a co-sponsor of a “Small Business Bill of Rights” in 2010, which also included provisions for tax and regulatory relief, limiting union influence, health care costs, and intellectual property protection.  Lee also released a “Manufacturing for Tomorrow” plan with the aim of strengthening manufacturing in the Buffalo area. It also called for tax relief, tort reform, and IP protections. Collins’ calls for China to not be an authoritarian pseudo-Maoist brute crony capitalist bad actor in international trade is cribbed – at least in part – from former Congressman Tom Reynolds, who co-sponsored a bill to address China’s currency manipulation. As Bellavia points out, it’s ironic to call for IP protections while cribbing others’ work without attribution, and the rest of the “Bill of Rights” is just a generic Republican recitation of typical platform positions, with a smidge of Obamaphobia mixed in. 

4. Collins’ media geniuses at Greener and Hook posted this to Twitter yesterday: 

5. Collins’ people don’t know how to spell. Not only is there the error on the Bill of Rights, which has been out since Wednesday, but even silly “forget the market – the government must manipulate gas prices” pieces have glaring errors. Of course, that’s before you get to the fact that Collins (a) doesn’t rebut the fact that domestic oil production is at an all-time high; (b) merely calls for more drilling on federal lands; (c) demands that an oil pipeline be built; (d) and otherwise completely ignores the fact that the world has been jerking from oil crisis to oil crisis since 1973, with no end in sight, and that it might be time to switch to renewable sources of energy, or more efficient engines such as biodiesel. It couldn’t be a stupider piece of writing, directed at a fundamentally ignorant audience. He thinks you’re just stupid. Must be why he won’t go meet with or listen to your genuine concerns as a middle-class suburban or rural New Yorker, and instead just regurgitates what he reads in the memos he gets from his handlers and pollsters.

6. Collins refuses to debate Bellavia; refuses to negotiate for any debates. 

7. Collins refuses to release his tax information. He figures he can wait it out until after the primary, during which he can simply out-spend Bellavia on direct mail and TV ads, and deal with it in the Fall. The problem is that, like Mitt Romney, it’s quite likely that there’s some juicy stuff in Collins’ returns that he doesn’t want to reveal. Does he pay less than 20% on his multi-million dollar income? Has he taken advantage of federal amnesty provisions for offshore tax avoidance accounts? No one knows. Bellavia made his returns available several weeks ago, but Collins directly refuses to do the same. I thought wealth wasn’t something to be ashamed of?  

Collins appeared before a Niagara County audience, and directly told them that he’ll never reveal his tax returns because, “his business partners’ income would be exposed and his competitors would pounce on the information to somehow kill jobs in western New York.” This ignores the fact that any such confidential material not relevant to the tax Collins pays is easily redacted, but Collins claimed that, for tax year 2011, he paid 44% of his income in taxes, including “my state income tax, my property tax and my federal tax last year.”

 So, math geniuses, how much is that? Collins’ property and school taxes are close to a whopping $24,000 per year. What is he hiding or ashamed of? 

8.  Collins got caught backtracking and blaming aides (never his fault) for his membership in a Bloomberg-sponsored anti-illegal-gun group. Being for gun control is acceptable for New York City Republicans, but not for Republicans here in WNY. 

On the bright side, so far, Collins has refrained from making any sexist or vaguely anti-Semitic remarks about donors or other political figures, so he’s got that going for him, which is nice. 

 


Six Sigma Collins on the Military

Chris Collins, who is casually running to represent the newly-constructed 27th Congressional District in Congress, hasn’t learned his lesson. He is still trying clumsily to foist his technocratic Six Sigma nonsense onto anything and everything. 

Astonishingly, on Saturday morning Collins told the monthly Erie County Republican Roundtable that he would close the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and the Batavia VA Medical Center if they were not “efficient”. This calls into question what Collins considers to be efficient – the quality of care at the VA, or the military services provided by the air base versus their cost. 

Of course, things like the VA and the air base are examples of Keynesian economic stimuli, and their closure would affect the economy-at-large. But Republicans seldom acknowledge their inconsistencies on this point. 

But the measure of whether we need a VA center in Batavia shouldn’t be cold, bean-counting “efficiency”, but whether it serves a public need. Government services don’t exist to make money, and we should hardly take away critical health services from GLOW-area veterans. Likewise, the fate of the air base should be dependent not on economics, but on military need. 

In a press release, Bellavia said, 

“While efficiency is quite important, effectiveness is by far the paramount goal of our national defense,” Bellavia said. “Mr. Collins clearly does not understand this and cannot possibly represent a Congressional district which includes one of the most important United States Air Force bases in the world.”

“Likewise, the quality of service Veterans Administration hospitals provide for our wounded warriors and retired military is the most important metric in the system,” Bellavia said. “Thousands of retired military and many wounded soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines reside in the 27th Congressional District. How would they get the medical care our nation pledged to them if Mr. Collins closes the Batavia VA hospital?”

“What will Mr. Collins do – wrap the air base and hospital in his vaunted Six Sigma values and close them if they don’t pass muster?” Bellavia asked. “Will he shutter Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station if the C-130’s don’t burn bio-fuel? Will the VA hospital have to meet the infamous standard of care of private HMO’s? While I agree we must always strive for cost efficient government operations, Mr. Collins’ slavish devotion to efficiency-above-all will surely destroy our military and veterans services.”

Chris Collins thinks that government serves the taxpayer – it was his mantra throughout his single term as County Executive. But that’s only partly true – while government owes a fiduciary duty to the taxpayer to not be wasteful, its real service is to those who are in need of services. We get worked up over a guy who allegedly defrauded $4,000 – but that’s less than a drop in a massive bucket of regional economic failure. Chris Collins’ IDA doled out millions in tax breaks, loans, and incentives to the connected – that we don’t examine or criticize, because we don’t understand it or bother to wrap our heads around the dollar figures or long-term success or failure of the process. 


Maziarz Backs Bellavia #Shotsfired

If you had any doubt that Chris Collins‘ star has not only faded, but has been all but extinguished, witness State Senator George Maziarz’s astonishing, early endorsement of David Bellavia to challenge Democrat Kathy Hochul in the newly constituted NY-27. 

In just a few short weeks, Bellavia has taken the reins in this Republican primary – he announced first, he challenged Collins to a series of debates – an activity Collins detests, and he has lined up the support of millionaire Jack Davis. Bellavia has seemingly accumulated not only momentum, but something he has always sorely lacked – money. Now, boots are on the ground collecting signatures, and Bellavia expects to well exceed the approximately 1,000 signatures needed to get on the Republican ballot, and may also seek a second line. 

Collins has a tough row to hoe. As I wrote in November, Collins’ tenure in government was packed with mini-scandals. He referred to the Jewish Assembly Speaker as the “anti-Christ”, and the time when Collins jokingly demanded a “lap dance” in order to save a seat at the State of the State address for a well-connected female executive at a local construction company. It ignores the fact that, to some people, informing them days before Christmas that they’d be losing their state-funded daycare services and that they’d have to quit their jobs to watch their kids, is quite scandalous indeed.

Secondly, Collins did not, as some claim, “fulfill all his promises“. Collins raised taxes, deepened regional cleaves, and ran on “Three Rs – Reforming Erie County government, Rebuilding the local economy, and ultimately, Reducing taxes.”

He did not reform county government – in fact, he resisted and blocked reforms almost routinely (another “r”); he did not rebuild the local economy, but ensured that stimulus funds were hoarded to artificially improve his balance sheet; and he did not reduce – but raised – taxes. That’s breaking your promises, and that’s failure under any measure. It’s no wonder he lost.

Bellavia is now collecting support from the Republican establishment – especially those who were never big fans of Collins’.  Here is the relevant text of the Maziarz endorsement press release:

New York State Senator George D. Maziarz today announced his Republican Primary endorsement of conservative Republican David Bellavia for Congress in the 27th Congressional District of New York.

“I’ve known David Bellavia and his family for many years and I can speak with great confidence about his principle, honor, and integrity,” Sen. Maziarz said. “I am very proud of the way David represented western New York when he fought so heroically in the Iraq War. When he returned from combat I encouraged his interest in politics and I can say without reservation David Bellavia is by far the best person to represent our area in Congress.”

Upon Bellavia’s return from combat, Maziarz was instrumental in awarding him with the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross and inducting him into the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame.

“While I admire David for his military service, it is important for the voters to know his knowledge of national issues far exceeds his opponent in the Republican Primary and his general election competitor,” Sen. Maziarz said. “David knows how those issues impact the working class, because he is just like the constituents of the 27th District – a hardworking family man who knows what it’s like to struggle with high taxes and balancing the family budget.”

“I am humbled by Sen. Maziarz’s early support in this Republican Primary because I know he weighs endorsements very carefully,” Bellavia said. “He has been a mentor to me with his advice and counsel and an example to me with how he conducts himself as a public servant. His backing is a real shot in the arm for our campaign, especially because almost his entire State Senate district lies within the 27th Congressional District.”

“I will strive to serve Sen. Maziarz’s constituents in Congress with as much devotion to duty as he has shown for 17 years in the State Senate,” Bellavia said.


Bellavia: Dear Chris:

I can call you Chris, right? I mean, after you and Carl tried to strong-arm me into getting out of the NY-26 race last year, we’re buds, right? Anyhow…

3-27 Bellavia Debate Letter to Collins




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