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Collins gets statewide endorsement ; Conservative Party gives House campaign a boost

Chris Collins' campaign for Congress received a major boost Thursday when the state Conservative Party granted its support.

State Conservative Chairman Michael R. Long said his Executive Committee voted by a "very high majority" to back the former Erie County executive over David Bellavia, an Iraq War veteran who also had mounted an intensive campaign for the often-crucial minor party nod.

"He is the person who can beat Kathy Hochul," Long said, referring to the incumbent Democrat who is running for a second term in the new 27th District.

Collins, who lost his re-election bid last November, had been considered the favorite for the Conservative line and was backed by Erie County Chairman Ralph C. Lorigo. Though several Conservative chairmen in the district's rural counties had pledged support, the decision in multicounty races is made by Long and his Executive Committee, which met Thursday in Brooklyn.

"Conservative values aren't just a talking point to me -- it's how I governed as county executive, and how I'll vote as a member of Congress," Collins said. "I am grateful for their support and their dedication to conservative American principles."

Bellavia noted that he had collected and submitted enough signatures on designating petitions to qualify and was "disappointed" by the decision.

"However, I respect the process and thank Chairman Mike Long and his committee for considering my candidacy," he said.