First off, it's just a coincidence. I cannot leg press 2,000 lbs and I do not know when or where God is sending the next hurricane. I do, however, want to speak out on something very important to me - the man who should replace Hillary Clinton in the United States Senate.
In my mind, there is no candidate more qualified to represent the great people of the Empire State than Congressman Brian Higgins. A native of blue-collar South Buffalo, Higgins understands the problems that real Americans face because he knows what it's like to be a normal American. The son of a bricklayer father and a schoolteacher mother, Higgins put himself through college at Buffalo State and was eventually able to attend public policy school at Harvard.
Yet, while all too many political crooks like Ted Stevens and Rod Blagojevich dominate the headlines today with their plans to use their public office for profit, Higgins has done the exact opposite. Although he is worth barely over $66,000 today, according to the Sunlight Foundation, he has spent his life in public service.
Before running for office himself, he worked for the Erie County sheriff, the New York State Assembly, and the Erie County Legislature. He also returned to his alma mater for a time, teaching history and economics. For years, he served on the Buffalo Common Council (Buffalo's equivalent of a city council), addressing civic issues in a town that is hardly known for its bright lights and glamorous jobs. In 1993, the Buffalo News recognized his leadership and named him their "Best Councilmember." Higgins later moved on to the State Assembly in 1998, serving until 2004.
Since turning the 27th Congressional District Buffalo Bills blue in 2004, Higgins has led the charge on a host of progressive issues during his three terms in the House. In the 110th Congress, he introduced HJ Res 61, a bill that would amend the Constitution to empower Congress to more effectively regulate the money coming into political campaigns. He has gained foreign policy experience on the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee for National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations. When President Bush asked for more troops to go to Iraq, Higgins spoke out against the idea on the floor of the House.
Higgins also gained intimate knowledge of the crisis in Darfur when he comforted the family of slain USAID worker and Buffalo native John Granville. As a result, last February, Higgins drafted a letter to President Bush, asking him to refine U.S. policy in the region to clarify whether the Special Envoy for Sudan or the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs had the final authority on decision-making in the region. The Genocide Intervention Network, Save Darfur Coalition, Amnesty International, ENOUGH Project, and 49 House colleagues joined him in demanding this of the President.
Additionally, Higgins has dedicated himself to his district - a fact recognized by the constituents who love that he has maintained his South Buffalo roots and refused to become part of the Washington establishment - and has taken concrete steps to revitalize Buffalo, something that many believed could never be done. He procured $279 million from the New York Power Authority for developing Buffalo's untapped waterfront resources. According to the National Journal's Almanac of American Politics, the Buffalo News recognized Higgins as "the Lone Ranger in the fight" who got "the most credit from players in the power game." Higgins was willing to do this for the Buffalo area, even though it reportedly hurt his relationship with Louise Slaughter, the powerful Rules Committee Chairwoman who serves just one district over.
On a closing note, Higgins has worked tirelessly to keep the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo. While this may seem like just standard devotion to your district, Higgins' actions reach far beyond Western New York. As those of us who are football fans can attest, the small-market teams like the Bills are constantly under threat due to the NFL's profit sharing agreements. If the Bills leave Buffalo, you can be sure that the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, and other small-market franchises will soon move to bigger cities (take your pick, LA, Toronto, etc.) and bigger profit margins. Those cities will be worse off for it, and in a volatile economic climate like the present one, we need to stand up for small-market towns.
More importantly, we need more men and women like Brian Higgins in the U.S. Senate.