Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump.
It’s all Donald Trump, all the time – here and across the nation.
Indeed, as the Manhattan billionaire steamrolls toward the Republican presidential nomination, his plans are slowly unfolding for what could prove a major effort in the New York primary on April 19.
Congressman Chris Collins, for example, is emerging as a national Trump figure after transferring his support from the failed campaign of Jeb Bush. Collins did not simply jump the sinking SS Bush to climb on board with Trump. He’s taken up a bullhorn.
The Clarence Republican has been all over national television testifying to Trump’s ability as a businessman. That includes five appearances on Fox News, three on Fox Business News, five on CNN and another two on MSNBC. Collins even resurrected his “elect a chief executive, not a chief politician” mantra from his old county executive campaigns to tout a businessman for president of the United States.
Aside from TV, the congressman’s most high-profile effort occurred a few days ago at the Republican State Convention in Buffalo. During a session in which presidential proponents delivered speeches in favor of their candidate, Collins emerged as one of the few elected officials carrying the Trump banner.
“They have said to me: ‘Go do anything and everything,’ ” he told The Buffalo News. “And I have said I will do anything they want me to do.”
Collins told the convention that Mitt Romney’s denunciation of Trump had energized the candidate’s base even more, reiterating that Romney and the establishment no longer speak for mainstream Republicans.
“I looked to see who was legitimately left standing and saw a born leader, a winner, someone with vision,” Collins said. “Does anyone here doubt that Donald Trump is going to secure our borders?”
Buffalo’s Carl Paladino, meanwhile, is also stepping up for Trump. To assist the New York effort, he has hired John Haggerty, a veteran political operative who worked on his 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Haggerty did prison time for stealing campaign funds from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009. But Paladino remains loyal to Haggerty, who remains one of the most respected figures in the New York politics biz.
The bet here is that the savvy Haggerty will also help the repeat bid for governor Paladino is expected to launch in 2018.
Trump has been making noise in recent days about carrying New York – especially upstate – on April 19. Paladino believes the campaign will address its strategy after the Florida and Ohio primaries on Tuesday.
Those two contests loom large. If Sen. Marco Rubio loses his home state of Florida, many observers see him leaving the race. Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, meanwhile, is counting on winning his Ohio home turf.
County Legislator Kevin Hardwick, who has emerged as Western New York’s most vocal Kasich supporter, said the state may very well play a role for the governor.
“He could be the last guy standing in the establishment lane,” he said. “The guy with the ‘Scarlet E.’ ”
Former New Hampshire Sen. Gordon Humphries championed the Kasich effort at the recent convention, and Hardwick also expects Steve Whipple – the County Legislature’s chief of staff – to expand his already active New York role for the Ohio governor.
Rubio, meanwhile, enjoys high-profile support in Buffalo from former Ambassador Tony Gioia. He has also gathered some state legislators – chief among them Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis of Brooklyn. But when it came to touting his presidential efforts at the convention, the best Rubio Nation could offer was the Broome County Republican chairman.
Which is still a heckuva lot better than Sen. Ted Cruz seems to be doing in New York. Despite his success in racking up delegates in the South and other places, Cruz’s New York effort appears non-existent in these parts.
Nobody spoke on his behalf at the convention, and when last month’s Erie County straw poll event asked for someone – anyone – to nominate Cruz, not a single hand raised.