Questions swirl in New York’s 27th Congressional District

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Robert J. McCarthy

It’s possible that Republican leaders will have selected a special election candidate for the vacant 27th Congressional District when the Politics Column appears on Sunday. But here are some “what ifs” they will have considered, with more for coming days:

• What if GOP leaders select State Sen. Rob Ortt? Will Stefan Mychajliw still run?

The Erie County comptroller has aimed the early part of his campaign against Sen. Chris Jacobs, another declared candidate whom he calls a “never-Trumper” in a district that supports President Trump.

Mychajliw has so far raised zero dollars for his effort, but could rely on the Club for Growth national political committee to pour zillions into a big time anti-Jacobs campaign. The committee may be OK with Ortt, a Bronze Star recipient with a 100% rating from the Conservative Party. Where does Mychajliw go then?

• What if Erie County, with 40% of the weighted vote, and Niagara, with 18%, agree on a candidate?

Then it’s all over. But early indications say they are not together, otherwise all the county leaders’ deliberations at their secret clubhouse out in the woods would be unnecessary.

The outlying counties, meanwhile, want a say in the process. The leaders of Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, Wyoming and a slice of Monroe seem to take pride in staving off the big guys in Erie.

• What if anything less than unity results from the secret clubhouse meeting?

That could prove a mess. Their candidate will need a total commitment from all eight county organizations in money, manpower and get-out-the-vote efforts.

• What if grassroots Republicans sit out the special election if the rejected county organizations don’t join the effort?

That’s part of the potential problem.

• What if the Conservative Party becomes an afterthought? Couldn’t a Democrat sneak in if the GOP and Conservatives nominate different candidates and split their vote?

That scenario tops Democrat Nate McMurray’s prayer list. He already sees an opening as hordes of Democrats head to the polls on April 28 – the same day as the hotly contested Democratic primary (assuming the issue remains alive).

“The office is priority No. 1, as opposed to the chosen candidate,” says Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph Lorigo.

• What if the county leaders pass over former Darien Town Justice Beth Parlato? Will she still compete in the June 23 Republican primary?

“I’m under no illusion I will be their pick,” she said a few days ago. “I got into this for the primary.”

• What if the Repubs select Jacobs? And what if Trump – at the very least – tweeted his support? Wouldn’t that end all the never-Trumper barbs aimed at Jacobs?


• Assuming he is still president in the days before the April 28 special election, what if Trump staged a rally for the GOP nominee in the heart of the rural district?

The president might not resist such an opportunity. He could parachute into one of New York’s few red enclaves and be surrounded by adoring supporters. And it might galvanize Republican support by bringing everyone together.

• What if Nick Langworthy gets involved?

The state Republican chairman says he will only facilitate the nominating process and will not favor any candidate. But he has access to Trump, especially after joining the early and select group of New Yorkers who tried to persuade him to run for governor in 2014.

Indeed, the New York Times reported last year that Trump’s political organization paved the way for Langworthy’s ascension to the state chairmanship. And as one of possibly two special House elections, Trump could count NY27 as a big win heading toward November.

• What if Chris Collins had avoided trouble?

None of this mess would have happened.

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