WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) - Who is in line to replace the disgraced "Craigslist Congressman" Chris Lee? A handful of potential hopefuls are coming into focus.
Local party chairman in various counties in the district will endorse the candidates, and though it may potentially be a wide field, at least two Republican candidates are coming forward to talk about their interest in replacing Lee.
State Senator George Maziarz says his name recognition and district size, compared to Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, would give him an edge, should he be asked to run for Chris Lee's
"About 90 percent of my Senate district is contained within this Congressional district. It's much larger than say an Assembly district would be. I got contacts in Monroe County, obviously Orleans County, and Niagara and Erie," said Sen. Maziarz.
Assemblywoman Corwin countered, "Part of the advantage to coming in in the last two years is the opportunity to go out there and meet with people and get the name out there. Certainly that's something I would very much do, especially in the areas were I don't have part of my district."
Should Sen. Maziarz leave the State Senate, and a Democrat win his seat in a special election, the Republicans would lose control of the Senate.
Sen. Maziarz said, "Probably most of my colleagues in the State Senate would rather I didn't do this, but it's an opportunity that doesn't come up very often. It's something that you have to weigh."
"George is third most powerful man in the Senate and that is very, very important for all of us. I appreciate everything he's doing where he is right now," added Assemblywoman Corwin.
On the Democrat's side, Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul has been approached by party leaders, and County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz's name has come up as well. Hochul told News 4, "People have been asking me to take a hard look at this, and that's exactly what I'm going to do."
Erie County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan said, "I've just been on the phone tonight with chairmen from some of the other counties and asking around if there's anybody that sounds good to them. But right now, it's pretty much the three from Erie County that have expressed, at least, could be interested, I'm not going to speak for them. But I think there's certainly probably three people thinking about it tonight."
The third person Lenihan was talking about is Amherst Town Councilman Mark Manna. Iraq War veteran David Bellavia is again interested in a run and says there is Tea Party interest in him because he is not a wealthy politician.
Bellavia commented, "This is still a House of the people and you're going to have to outwork everyone. And just because you're an elected official or you have a lot of money doesn't mean you're endowed to be a member of Congress."
The Conservative Party could play a critical role in the special election. Erie County Chairman Ralph Lorigo said there are many candidates to consider. He said Jack Davis even approached him. Davis is 78. Everyone is waiting now to see when Governor Andrew Cuomo will move to set a date for the special election.
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