By Sam Foster
Want to know which Republican is likely to make a gambit to replace Chris Lee in NY-26? Trust me, it’s easier to count who isn’t running (Carl Paladino and Erie County Executive Chris Collins). If you are depending on the media to give you a clue, be prepared for a trip down the rabbit hole. I checked through a few different news sites and composed the following list of potentials:
So far Dan Burling and Jack Quinn have expressly related their intention of seeking the coveted spot. The long list is a good sign for Republicans as high interest usually indicates that there is an expectation that a challenge from the Democrats will be weak.
What are we to make of the overly populated group above? I spoke with a few local party players and pundits and their short list was almost unanimously behind Jane Corwin and George Maziarz. Here is why…
NY-26 is composed of a long list of full and partial counties, but the district, over 50%, currently lies in Erie and Niagara Counties. Thus traditionally, power players from Buffalo have held the most sway in such decisions.
Jane Corwin has historically been strongly backed by Erie County Executive Chris Collins. She’s a fresh face having only served in the assembly since 2008. Her voting record has been solid during her tenure, although it is easy for a Republican assemblywoman to be so. Most importantly, and this is always a big deal for Republicans, she can self-fund. So far no indication that she is interested, but Paladino cited Corwin as the reason he wasn’t planning on vying for the position.
George Maziarz on the other hand has publically signaled his interest. He heralds from the Buffalo suburbs, which as discussed above is a big qualifier. He’s the number three man in the Republican State Senate majority, so he has some clout. However, Republicans may not have the stomach to defend his Senate seat after narrowly reclaiming the State Senate in November.
Some of my contacts near Rochester added two other names, Maggie Brooks and Dan Burling. The potential for these two truly lies in the NYS Senates plan for redistricting. What makes Corwin and Maziarz so likely also has the potential of disqualifying them. NY is going to lose two seats in 2012 and at least one of those districts is likely to be Republican and in Upstate NY. Some have floated a NY-29 and NY-26 combination although it’s early and it really is anyone’s guess. Regardless, Republicans are going to be mindful of where the boundaries are likely to lie in 2012 and if the common thought is that NY-26 is going to change significantly in the direction of rural or suburban Rochester, either of these two could be major contenders.
Burling isn't coy about his ambitions for the seat and it’s no secret that Brooks has been eying a chance to head to Washington.