A Washington, D.C., political action committee founded by Jack Kemp has thrown its support behind Beth Parlato to fill the seat left vacant by former Rep. Chris Collins.
Jimmy Kemp, the late Buffalo area congressman's son and the executive director of Empower America Project, announced Monday that the political fundraising organization would endorse Parlato, a former Darien town justice who plans a primary run for the seat.
The announcement came on the day Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo officially proclaimed the special election for the 27th Congressional District will be held April 28. The governor's announcement, which was expected, will set up one of the only special elections to fill a congressional seat this year. It will be followed by a primary in June and the general election in November.
Some will view Empower America's endorsement as a blow to State Sen. Chris Jacobs, who once worked for Kemp. Jacobs has secured Republican support to run in the April 28 election for the open congressional seat.
Parlato is one of 10 candidates the Empower America Project endorsed in its effort to "increase the representation of minority and female conservatives in elected office across the country."
Cuomo exercised his constitutional power to set the contest date for the seat vacated by Collins, who resigned on Sept. 30 after pleading guilty to federal charges related to insider trading. As a result, Democrat Nate McMurray will face Jacobs throughout the eight-county district on the same day when significant numbers of Democrats are expected to participate in the state’s presidential primary.
The GOP had filed suit against the governor and state Board of Elections in December to seek an earlier election.
But State Supreme Court Justice John J. Ark in Rochester was assured on Jan. 13 that Cuomo intended to slate the election for April 28, and the Republican effort ended.
On Monday, the governor also set the same date for three vacancies in the Assembly and one in the Senate.
Now a major battle looms between Jacobs and McMurray in a contest that could eventually feature the April 28 special, a June 23 primary, and a Nov. 3 general election. The winner on April 28 will immediately take office and serve at least until Dec. 31 to fill the unexpired Collins term.
The district remains the most Republican by registration of any in New York State, but McMurray came within about 1,000 votes of knocking off the indicted Collins in 2018. The former Grand Island supervisor will also enjoy an advantage from the anticipated high Democratic turnout on presidential primary day.
Jacobs, a state senator from Orchard Park, enters the contest with a brimming campaign treasury, but failed in recent weeks to gain the often crucial backing of the Conservative Party. Even if he wins the special election, he is expected to face opposition in the Republican primary just seven weeks later. State Sen. Robert G. Ortt of North Tonawanda, former Darien Town Justice Beth A. Parlato and Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw Jr. have all declared their candidacies.