In the Western New York Republican primary to decide who will challenge Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul this fall, there are some obvious differences between the candidates: Chris Collins, a wealthy businessman, served as Erie County executive until he was ousted last year, while Iraq War veteran and author David Bellavia is running for elected office for the first time with far less cash to spend.
But in terms of their policies, the differences are less clear. In a webcast last week, Buffalo News columnist Bob McCarthy said the two candidates seem to be largely on the same page on foreign policy, education and social issues.
“So, there aren’t a lot of real differences,” McCarthy said. “I mean, I’m sure the two of them will be able to point out the differences that they see in their campaigns, but, you know, they are basically solid Republican guys going here and they are very interested in taking on a person that they see as very much aligned with President Obama.”
Ask the candidates in the 27th Congressional District to explain their policy differences, and the two can’t even agree on what they disagree about.
And with Collins declining to participate in a YNN debate yesterday, and Bellavia missing one tonight, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for the two to air their differences before the June 26 primary.
In an interview, Bellavia said three key policy differences separate him from Collins: gun rights, abortion and the federal fiscal stimulus.
On gun rights, Bellavia touted his A rating from SCOPE, the Shooter Committee On Political Education, and his service on the board of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. He has attacked Collins for briefly joining Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s County Executives Against Illegal Guns, though Collins has said it was a mistake and that he was fooled into signing on.
On abortion, Bellavia pointed to his endorsement by the New York Right to Life, and accused Collins of refusing to talk about the issue. And on the fiscal stimulus, Bellavia criticized Collins for relying on President Barack Obama’s fiscal stimulus to balance the budget in Erie County.
“That’s where Mr. Collins and I differ,” Bellavia said. “I’m a solid conservative, he is not.”
Michael Kracker, the campaign manager for the Collins campaign, disputed Bellavia’s claims and said that the key policy issue in the race is fixing the economy, an area where Collins stands out as the strongest candidate.
“Chris is a strong advocate for Second Amendment rights, and will have a 100 percent pro-life voting record as a member of Congress,” Kracker said in a statement. “And just as importantly, Chris will vote for policies that save our economy from the disastrous actions of Barack Obama and Kathy Hochul.”
Kracker also said Collins created 500 jobs and cut the debt by $120 million as Erie County executive, which demonstrates that his “resume and experience are exactly what voters are looking for to fix the failed policies of Barack Obama and Kathy Hochul.”
Trackback from your site.