Contemplating a David Bellavia run for Congress

Renewed interest in Bellavia running for NY-27 after Medal of Honor announcement

Mike Baggerman
June 18, 2019 - 3:00 am

David Bellavia speaks to reporters in Cheektowaga about receiving the Medal of Honor. June 11, 2019 WBEN Photo/Tim Wenger

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - The Medal of Honor award for David Bellavia has led to speculation that he could be a player for the republicans in the 27th congressional district.

Prior to the announcement that he would receive the military's highest honor, Bellavia ruled out a run, saying he can't run for the seat because of his job working in radio.

"I'm not going to lie and say I'm debating this with my family or talking over this with anyone else," he said on May 19. "I have a decision. I'm 100 percent in every decision I make. I would rather keep my gig until the time comes to make my decision."

At last week's press conference, his first availability since he was named as the latest recipient, Bellavia said that all he's ever wanted to do was serve his country.

"Whatever the army wants me to do, I'm forever grateful to the United States Army," he said.

Clarence Republican Chris Collins is the current representative in the 27th congressional district but faces mounting legal issues after his indictment last August on insider trading. His indictment led to around a dozen candidates who were considered to replace him in the weeks leading up to the election, including Bellavia. Collins won last year's midterm election over Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray and has not ruled out another run in the 2020 election. However, if found guilty of the allegations, Collins could not run. Republican State Senator Chris Jacobs recently announced his plans to run as a republican in the 27th congressional district as has Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw.

Bellavia's entrance into the race could change the political landscape.

"This district is probably going to change," Political strategist Michael Caputo said. "I believe we're going to see after the census a redistricting process that's going to make this a much-less reliable district...For a couple of reasons (Bellavia) is the very best candidate. He's campaigned for this district before. He knows it backwards and forwards. He's a candidate that's nationally honored and is someone who could serve us well. As they're redistricting in New York after the census, the very idea that they would redistrict New York 27 out of existence, the district being held by a Medal of Honor winner? I don't think the Albany forces would even do that."

Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy, who will take over the role of State GOP Chairman next month, said redistricting could cost republicans as many as two congressional seats from New York in Washington.

Langworthy said all discussion about Bellavia running is speculative and said it's up to Bellavia to decide whether or not he wants to run for Congress.

"There's likely to be a primary," Langworthy said. "That's all I would go out on a limb and say. We'll find out exactly who is going to be in that primary when it comes time to circulate petitions either next February or early next March."

Jeremy Zellner, the chairman of the Erie County Democrats, suggested that Nate McMurray will run again for the 27th congressional district.

"Most of the county leaders are already on board with Nate McMurray," Zellner said. "We all see how hard he worked last time so we'll see where we go."

And if Bellavia runs against the democrats?

"It seems like they're trying to clear the deck for Chris Jacobs at this point," Zellner said. "If they do that, I don't see Mr. Bellavia picking up any traction in that at all."

Bellavia will be awarded with the Medal of Honor by President Donald Trump on June 25.

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