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House speaker hits WNY for cash to hang onto majority

With some Republicans beginning to fret over retaining both houses of Congress this election year, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan is stumping through Western New York on Monday and Tuesday for the money needed to stave off a serious Democratic challenge.

The Wisconsin Republican’s Western New York swing began Monday evening at the Hotel@Lafayette in downtown Buffalo. It replenished “Team Ryan,” described as a joint fundraising committee benefiting Ryan for Congress, a political action committee called Prosperity Action and the National Republican Campaign Committee.

Reporters and photographers were not allowed inside the Buffalo event, and Ryan’s office denied requests for interviews or photographs.

But Mayor Byron W. Brown, who now doubles as state Democratic chairman, was not about to let the top Republican in the House come into his town without a comment. Brown noted that more and more news accounts, including the lead story in Monday’s editions of The Buffalo News, note the growing concern that Donald Trump’s continuing struggles in the presidential race may drag down congressional candidates, too.

Some say Trump’s problems are so severe that Democrats could significantly cut into the GOP’s 30-seat advantage or take over altogether.

“I think Speaker Ryan’s visit here signifies how deeply Republicans are concerend about down ballot races,” Brown said, noting Republicans are standing behind a presidential candidate who “does not reflect New York values.”

“Hillary Clinton is doing well here and it looks now like a lot of Republicans are coming her way, and significantly boosting Democratic candidates,” he said. “So clearly, Republicans know there is a need to raise even more money to protect their majority in Congress.”

Part of that effort includes a breakfast fundraiser at the Oak Hill Country Club in suburban Rochester slated for Tuesday morning. It will benefit Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning.

Rep. Chris Collins of Clarence and his wife, Mary, sponsored the Buffalo event. Other top sponsors include Paul and Barbara Harder, who have been active in local congressional fundraising, and Buffalo developer Nick Sinatra, a White House staffer for former President George W. Bush.

A $10,000 donation gained admittance to a VIP photo reception, while $1,000 included a reception and dinner.

Ryan’s Rochester breakfast sought contributions of $500, $1,000 and $2,700. It will benefit Reed’s 2016 campaign against Democratic challenger John Plumb, and lists approximately 15 co-sponsors.

Plumb, who began airing his second television ad Monday, was also quick Monday to link Reed and Ryan to voting “in favor of millionaires and billionaires at the expense of working families.”

“After voting to inflict economic pain on our middle class families with a $2,000 tax increase that would pay for giveaways to millionaires,” Plumb said in a prepared statement, “Congressman Reed is now being rewarded with campaign fundraisers.”

Plumb was referring to a 2015 GOP budget proposal that critics said would raise taxes on middle-class families with children.

A Ryan spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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