WASHINGTON – Who is Jim Kelly’s favorite Buffalo Bill of all time?
The answer will appear starting Wednesday in a campaign ad on local television, and it’s surprising one: Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.
“When it looked like the Bills were going to leave, Chuck Schumer made sure that didn’t happen,” the retired Hall of Fame quarterback says in the ad for Schumer’s re-election bid against Republican Wendy Long. “He helped find a new owner, worked with the NFL to keep the team in Buffalo.”
The ad, a short-order retelling of Schumer’s role before and after the 2014 death of Bills founder Ralph Wilson, can be seen here:
Schumer pressed NFL owners for years to keep the team in Buffalo, fearing they might leave once Wilson passed away.
“I’ve known Chuck for a long time, and I must say, every time I’ve seen him in the last decade, the one constant theme or message he always seems to mention is that it’s very important to him that the Bills stay in Western New York,” Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, told The Buffalo News in 2014.
At that same time, Kelly and other sources said Schumer played an instrumental role in making sure that Terry Pegula would emerge as the new Bills owner.
“He was always right in the middle of this, always making sure things were moving in the right direction,” Kelly said at the time.
Still, Kelly’s full-throated endorsement of Schumer comes as something of a surprise. Kelly is a longtime Republican who once flirted briefly with a run for Congress. And a check of federal campaign records shows that while Kelly has donated modest sums to the campaigns of Republicans such as former Reps. Jack Quinn and Thomas M. Reynolds, along with former New York
Mayor Rudy Giuliani, he’s never donated to a Democrat running for federal office.
But Kelly’s rightward political leanings weren’t enough to stop him from endorsing Schumer, who’s in line to be the Senate’s top-ranking Democrat next year.
“From one quarterback to another, I’m proud to have a senator for all of New York,” Kelly said in the ad.
The 65-year-old senator from Brooklyn, looking quite unlike a quarterback, appears at the end of the ad, donning a Buffalo Bills jersey with the number “1” on the back.
“I’m Chuck Schumer and I approve this message,” he said. “Go Bills!”
Schumer is a heavy favorite for re-election against Long, who has built her long-shot bid in heavily Democratic New York on trying to paint Schumer as part of the Washington establishment.
On Tuesday, for example, Long issued a press release attacking Schumer for accepting $5,000 in campaign contributions from Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan Inc., the pharmaceutical company under fire for the prices it has been charging for its EpiPen device, which treats potentially deadly allergic reactions. Schumer also received $7,500 from Mylan’s PAC.
“He apparently did not like my suggestion that he disgorge the maximum donations he received in June from both Bresch personally and from Mylan’s PAC,” Long said in a press release. “This kind of corruption goes on every day, so he apparently thinks it is no big deal.”