State Sen. Chris Jacobs announced on Thursday that he would run for New York’s 27th Congressional District even if he has to face incumbent Chris Collins, who is under federal indictment for insider trading, in next year’s GOP primary.
Jacobs said of Collins, who is scheduled to stand trial in February, “It’s hard for anyone to say Chris Collins is fully capable of advocating for this district.” Collins responded to the challenge by declaring, “While I haven’t made a final decision on running for re-election, the last thing we need in this seat is a never-Trump Republican who supports abortion rights and has supported savings plans and taxpayers funded legal aid for illegal immigrants. That would be the same as electing a Democrat.”
This seat, which includes some of the Buffalo suburbs, backed Trump 60-35, and it would ordinarily be very safe red turf. However, Collins turned in a weak 49.1-48.7 performance against Democrat Nate McMurray, who says he'll run again if Collins does. The incumbent’s campaign isn’t in particularly great shape six months later, either. Collins raised just $5,000 during the first quarter of 2019, and he had only $167,000 to spend.
Jacobs, by contrast, probably won’t need to worry much about fundraising. Jacobs’ family founded and still owns the food service giant Delaware North, and the wealthy candidate did some self-funding during his successful 2016 campaign for the state Senate. Jacobs previously served as the appointed secretary of state under George Pataki, New York’s last Republican governor, and he later was elected clerk in Buffalo’s Erie County. All of this could give Jacobs a base and connections for what could be a tough race.
However, as Collins alludes, Jacobs was reluctant to get on the Donald Trump bandwagon that year. That fall Jacobs, who was running to flip an open Democratic-held seat, notably refused to say whether or not he was supporting Trump.
That may have been the right call at the time, since Jacobs won the state Senate race 59-39 even as Hillary Clinton was carrying the seat 50-45. However, GOP primary voters may be a whole lot less understanding next year. Collins himself was the first member of Congress to endorse Trump, so while he might face plenty of obstacles in another primary, his opponents will have a tough time out-Trumping him.