Democratic Party in 27th District seeking challenger to Chris Collins

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 March 2017 at 9:50 am

The Democratic Chairs from the eight counties in New York’s 27th congressional district have launched a “Turn 27 Blue” initiative, seeking candidates to challenge incumbent Chris Collins in Congress.

Collins has been a strong supporter for Donald Trump’s presidency, and was the first member of Congress to publicly support Trump. The local congressman is a frequent guest on the cable news shows, defending the president and his policies.

Chris Collins

Collins has declined to hold town hall meetings in his district, and that – as well as his support for Trump – has riled many people in his district.

“There is just so much energy on the ground right now,” Genesee County Democratic Chairman Michael Plitt said in a news release. “So we want to make sure we can help people navigate all that’s involved.”

Democratic Party leaders want to identify candidates for the election in November 2018, and help them learn about the process of running for Congress.

It won’t be easy to defeat Collins, who is in a district with a strong Republican advantage over Democrats in enrollment – 186,679 to 150,210.

Collins was first elected in 2012, narrowly defeating incumbent Kathy Hochul. Last November, Collins was re-elected with about two thirds of the vote against Diana Kastenbaum of Batavia.

Democratic Party leaders in the 27th District say there is “unprecedented interest” in next year’s Congressional election.

“We are just getting inundated with people saying they want to run against Chris Collins,” said Jeremy Zellner, the Erie County Democratic chairman. “We also want to work closely with the many different grassroots organizations that want to be involved in the 27th District.”

The Orleans County Democratic Committee is led by Jeanne Crane. She and other Democratic Party leaders in the district want to work with new groups that have sprung up since the November election.

“We decided a systematic approach will help to make the process more accessible to all who might be interested and give our eventual nominee the greatest chance for success,” said Judith Hunter, chairwoman of the Livingston County Democratic Committee. “Getting started now helps, too.”

Some of Collins’ constituents have protested outside his district offices, and have taken out billboards, asking him to hold town hall meetings.

“From weekly rallies to protests to letter-writing efforts to billboard campaigns, ordinary people in this district are standing up and rejecting what Chris Collins has offered us,” said Michelle Johnston Schoeneman of Citizens Against Collins. “We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work to help those who are willing to stand up and become candidates. It’s great to be part of this effort.”

Other groups that are opposing Collins include GLOW Progressives, Indivisible NY 27th and Sister District for Western New York.

Interested candidates for the 27th District are urged to send a resume and cover letter to, as Hunter will coordinate this effort on behalf of the larger group.

“Rep. Collins has just been so unresponsive to his constituents that everyone is eager to get started,” Hunter said.

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