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Panicked Republicans Scramble To Replace Indicted Incumbent In Deep Red District

A bitter conflict has broken out among Republicans as they rush to challenge one of their own in New York’s reddest congressional district, where incumbent Republican Rep. Chris Collins’ indictment on insider trading charges and pending trial on corruption charges has the party worried the red-hot district could turn blue next year.

As noted by Politico, Republican Party operatives fear there will be no miracle victory next year like Collins pulled off shortly after being charged in 2018.

The continued shadow cast over Collins’ integrity has convinced some local Republicans they need to look elsewhere if they wish to retain the seat. Collins, meanwhile, hasn’t signaled he’s ready to cede. A House Ethics Committee inquiry into Collins’ actions is open until the conclusion of his federal district court trial, slated for February 2020 in New York City.

In hopes of retaining the seat and seeing an opening, three Republicans already have announced plans to run regardless of the four-term incumbent’s political future in New York’s 27th district, and more may be on the way, according to Politico.

“The only way this district is lost is if Chris Collins is on the ballot,” said state Sen. Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo), the first to declare his bid against Collins in May.

Another local GOP official said he spoke to two other interested candidates just this month. Additional names high on the possible succession list include Republican Erie County comptroller Stefan Mychajliw Jr., state Assemblyman Stephen Hawley (R-Batavia) and Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia, an Iraq War veteran who ran against Collins in 2012, when the incumbent won his first term.

“Obviously you don’t want to wait too long if you are interested and something happens,” said Niagara County Republican Committee Chairman Richard Andres. “It was a very, very strange situation last year, and this will be just as interesting one to watch.”

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