By Robert J. McCarthy
One of the top names in national Republican politics -- Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin -- will highlight a June 2 fund raiser for Rep. Chris Collins and other GOP congressional efforts in East Aurora.
Collins said Wednesday the former vice presidential candidate will appear at the estate of Jerry Jacobs Jr. to raise money for the Collins campaign, his new leadership political action committee, and the National Republican Congressional Committee.
"He told me just the other day he has not been to Buffalo since he was a kid," Collins said of Ryan, "and as a protege of Jack Kemp, he really wants to come to Jack Kemp's town."
Sources close to the affair say organizers hope to raise as much as $350,000 for the Collins campaign and the other Republican entities that all aim to elect more Republicans to the House of Representatives.
Collins has proven adept during his short time in Congress at attracting top names to the area to raise money for GOP causes, including House Speaker John Boehner last year and Majority Leader Erie Cantor earlier this year.
"it speaks well for the 27th Congressional District and where I stand with the leadership in helping the GOP grow our majority," he said. "I want to be part of the team."
Indeed, Collins established a PAC in February called CHRISPAC (Congressional House Republicans In Service) which he launched in conjunction with Cantor's appearance at a local fund raising event. Since then the leadership PAC -- a concept normally associated with top House members -- gave $20,000 to Republican congressional candidates, including $2,000 to David Jolly, the Florida Republican who recently won a special election for a vacant House seat.
Others involved in the June event include businessmen Paul Harder, Anthony Gioia and William Gacioch, all of whom have supported Collins in the past.