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Editorial: Good news in the 27th District

If the residents of the suffering 27th Congressional District are looking for some good news – and they could use some – they can find it in reports that State Sen. Chris Jacobs is considering a run for that House seat. Indeed, even the possibility counts as some of the best news that put-upon district has had in years.

The decade beginning 2009 sure seemed to be shaping up for the district, but it quickly blew up. Ten years later, it’s a raging dumpster fire.

It was in 2009 that Republican Chris Lee set off for Washington as the new representative for what was then the 26th Congressional District. Lee’s predecessor, Thomas M. Reynolds, was facing his own political pressures and hadn’t sought re-election. Lee, an able and – it seemed – sensible man was elected to succeed him. Barely two years later, he abruptly resigned after an online dalliance was revealed.

He was succeeded by Democrat Kathy Hochul, now New York’s lieutenant governor, but she lasted less than two years. The district had been redrawn and renumbered following the 2010 census, creating the state’s most thoroughly Republican congressional district. She narrowly lost her re-election bid to Republican Chris Collins, who had recently failed in his own campaign for a second term as Erie County Executive.

Since then, Collins has represented the district in Congress, but ran first into ethics controversies and then, last August, smack into the arms of law: Indicted on federal felonies in an alleged insider-trading scheme, he barely won re-election in November. But because of new House rules, he was denied a committee assignment, hobbling his district with weakened representation and shrunken influence.

The district, it seems, has been consigned to a congressional incarnation of Murphy’s Law. Maybe things will change.

Collins’ trial is scheduled for February 2020, though it could be delayed as his lawyers argue a preposterous notion that a clause in the Constitution shields members of Congress from criminal liability even if they break the law. And while nothing – so far, at least – prevents him from seeking re-election next year, his fundraising has slowed to a trickle and he recently suggested to the Batavia Daily News that he might not seek a fifth term.

“At some point, you sit down with your family and say, ‘Do I want to stay in the public’s eye and do this again or not?’ ” he told the newspaper.

Enter Jacobs, a well-to-do politician who served as a Buffalo School Board member and Erie County Clerk before winning election to the State Senate. With Democrats winning control of the Senate in November, though, he is now relegated to the chamber’s largely ineffective minority party.

Jacobs hasn’t confirmed his interest in the office, but his recent activity suggests it. Other possible candidates are warming up in the 27th District’s bullpen, but Jacobs’ possible candidacy would mean at least one grownup is in the race.

Here’s hoping the district’s ill-served voters are given the option of electing a grownup.

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