BY JEREMY MOULE
The Congressional primary between Republicans Christopher Collins and David Bellavia hasn’t received as much local attention as Monroe County’s main House race: the general election matchup between Democrat Louise Slaughter and Republican Maggie Brooks. And yet the primary election will be held next week.
Collins and Bellavia are running for their party’s nomination for Congress from the 27th District, which includes Hamlin, Wheatland, Rush, Mendon, and part of Clarkson. The winner will run against Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul.
The primary campaign has been low-key, at least on the Rochester end of the district. The candidates haven’t engaged in an ad war, but rather have gone directly to local committees and voters. The candidates should be familiar to many primary voters in the district anyway. Bellavia, an Iraq War veteran, has run for Congress before, and Collins is the former Erie County executive. It’s a race where platform and grassroots support will make the most difference.
And in terms of grassroots support, Bellavia appears to be ahead. He has active supporters in the Monroe County part of his district, in Wyoming County, in Orleans County, and in Genesee County, his home county. He’s also received endorsements from the Orleans, Livingston, and Wyoming County parties. (Not all county parties in the district made endorsements.)
Collins picked up an endorsement from the state Conservative Party, and he’s got some support among Erie and Niagara County leaders.
In the past, the winner of this primary would have had very good odds of winning the general. The 26th District was always reliably Republican, and redistricting, when it was redrawn as the 27th, only increased the Republican enrollment advantage.
That’s hardly guaranteed at this point. During last year’s 26th District special election, Hochul demonstrated that a Democrat can win the district. She has the benefit of incumbency and is expected to run an aggressive campaign. If the Republicans want to take back the seat, their candidate will have to be equally aggressive.