Who will replace Chris Collins in the race for the 27th Congressional District?
Names of potential Republican candidates started to emerge Saturday shortly after the 10 a.m. announcement of Collins' exit from the race.
Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw was the first to announce his candidacy; not long after the names of several state elected officials started circulating.
State Assemblyman Ray Walter, R-Amherst, said he’ll respect the decision of the Republican leaders as they find the next candidate in the coming days. State Assemblyman Robert Ortt said he “will answer the call” should he be asked to serve.
Later Saturday, Carl Paladino chimed in and announced his interest in the congressional seat.
“It’s important for us to have the advantage of a relationship with the president of the United States,” Paladino said.
Here are the names that started to surface in the hours after the Collins' announcement. They either publicly acknowledged running or contacted party officials to express their interest:
- David Bellavia, 42, radio commentator. The decorated Iraq War veteran and co-host on WBEN Radio was Collins’ opponent in the Republican primary in 2012.
- Andrea Bozek, 35, of Amherst, senior vice president at the public affairs and lobbying group Mercury LLC. Bozek spent most of the last decade as a Republican operative in Washington, D.C. She is married to Chris Grant, Collins’ campaign consultant.
- David DiPietro, 58, of East Aurora, assemblyman. A small business owner and former trustee and mayor of East Aurora, he was elected to the Assembly in 2012, representing the 147th District in the southern portion of Erie County and all of Wyoming County.
- Lynne Dixon, 53, of Hamburg, Erie County legislator. A former television reporter, Dixon was first elected to the Legislature in 2009 and is in her fourth term representing Hamburg, Lackawanna, Blasdell and a portion of South Buffalo.
- James Domagalski, 53, attorney. Domalgalski, of Orchard Park, previously served as chairman of the Erie County Republican Party.
- Jeffrey Freeland, 33, of Lewiston. Former staffer for Collins, Freeland now serves in the White House as special assistant to the president for legislative affairs.
- Patrick Gallivan, 57, of Elma, state senator. Former state trooper and Erie County sheriff, Gallivan was first elected to State Senate in 2010 to represent the 59th District, which includes all or portions of Erie, Wyoming, Livingston and Monroe counties.
- Stephen Hawley, 71, assemblyman. The licensed Realtor and Batavia native has been serving in the Assembly for 12 years, representing Genesee and Orleans counties, and parts of Monroe County.
- Chris Jacobs, 51, of Buffalo, state senator. Jacobs spent five years as Erie County Clerk, before being elected to the State Senate in 2016 to represent the 60th District, which covers parts of Buffalo, the City of Tonawanda, and the towns of Brant, Evans, Grand Island, Hamburg, Orchard Park and Tonawanda.
- Stefan Mychajliw, 44, of Hamburg, Erie County comptroller. The former television reporter was first elected as comptroller in 2012 to fill a one-year vacancy, before winning re-election in 2013 and 2017.
- Robert Ortt, 39, of North Tonawanda, state senator. Former mayor of North Tonawanda, he was elected to the State Senate in 2014 to represent the 62nd District, which covers Niagara and Orleans counties, and parts of Monroe County.
- Carl Paladino, 71, Buffalo developer. The one-time Republican gubernatorial candidate and ousted Buffalo School Board member served as co-chairman of Donald Trump’s election campaign in New York.
- Michael Ranzenhofer, 63, of Amherst, state senator. An attorney and former Erie County legislator, he is serving his fifth term in the state Senate representing the 61st district, which includes Amherst, Clarence, Newstead, parts of Monroe County and Genesee County.
- Ed Rath, 51, of Amherst, Erie County legislator. First elected to the Legislature in 2007, Rath is in his fifth term representing Clarence, Akron, Newstead and parts of Amherst.
- Ray Walter, 46, of Amherst, state assemblyman. An attorney first elected to the state Assembly in 2001, Walter represents the 146th District, which includes the towns of Amherst and Pendleton.
— News Staff Reporter Barbara O'Brien contributed to this report.