Even while campaigning as a political “outsider,” Republican Beth A. Parlato appears to recognize the power wielded by GOP leaders of the 27th Congressional District.
The former Darien town justice and conservative commentator has launched an online petition drive aimed at the eight county leaders who will determine the Republican nomination in the anticipated special election for the vacant seat of former Rep. Chris Collins. Competing against state Sens. Christopher L. Jacobs and Robert G. Ortt, Parlato began collecting signatures over the weekend to make her case to the "insiders' who will anoint a candidate.
“I am under no illusion. I’m not a party insider like my two opponents,” she said Monday. “But I want to show them this is a true grassroots movement.
“I am making the case that I am an outsider,” she added, “and I am telling the chairs that what this district wants is an outsider.”
Republican leaders of county committees (who nominate candidates in special elections) were slated on Monday to begin planning their “process” for the April 28 contest. While most observers view Jacobs and Ortt as early favorites, Parlato has stepped up her efforts in recent days to remind the party leaders that she is a candidate, too.
Last week she launched radio ads in Buffalo and Rochester, followed by weekend television spots on Fox affiliates in the same cities. She again emphasizes her loyalty to President Trump, the immigration “crisis” on the southern border, her support for the Second Amendment and proclaims herself “unapologetically pro-life.”
In addition, she conducted a “telephone town hall” meeting Friday night that drew more than 1,000 participants, in which callers posed questions.
“I know I have this grassroots support,” she said. “I have to show it.”
Parlato said her campaign received new attention from football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly’s Twitter support on Sunday, and is now concentrating on her petition drive. She also said Monday she hopes the county leaders will not hastily name a congressional candidate, noting Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has yet to officially declare an election and is not legally required to do so for several weeks.
“I don’t think they should make anything public until after the governor announces, and I’m speaking now as a lawyer,” she said. “There’s no guarantee he’s even going to do it.”
She also reiterated her commitment to running in the June 23 primary no matter whom the party leaders select for the special election.
“I got into this race for a primary,” she said. ”I just believe in the democratic process and that voters get to vote in a congressional election.”
Parlato’s latest efforts jibe with those of Ortt and Jacobs, who are also portraying themselves as uber-conservative in the state’s most Republican congressional district, where polls show Trump is extremely popular.
On Monday, Jacobs announced the support of Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard, who served as a statewide co-chairman for Trump’s 2016 campaign in New York. The sheriff announced his backing for Jacobs at a weekend gun show in Newstead, praising him for opposition to Cuomo’s SAFE Act as both a senator and when he was Erie County clerk.
“Just as Chris has been a loyal ally fighting alongside me as sheriff,” Howard said, “I can assure you Chris will fight just as hard alongside President Trump and all the great things he is doing for our country.”
While Republicans grapple with choosing from among three announced candidates (Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw Jr. has not announced but wants to address the county leaders), Democrats have settled on Nate McMurray. The former Grand Island supervisor narrowly lost to Collins in the 2018 general election, and on Monday he picked up the support of the Working Families Party.
“We are endorsing Nate McMurray because he firmly stands with us on issues that matter to working class people in America today,” said WFP representative Louisa Pacheco. “Nate boldly supports protecting immigrants as a marginalized labor force, expanding health care for all, and building a country that is for everybody – not just the rich.”