Republicans Gain in Erie County, But Does Collins?

GLENS FALLS—Another Republican victory ground: Erie County. But how much will any of it benefit County Executive Chris Collins?

The G.O.P. held onto the Sheriff’s office and won three seats in the Democrat-dominated County Legislature, bringing the margin to 9-6. This is significant: it deprives Democrats of the ability to vote as a bloc to override vetoes Collins, a Republican who has openly battled with the legislature, issues.

Collins, who has been mulling a statewide run for office (before a major misstep when he likened Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to the anti-Christ) and helped recruit four of the legislative candidates, is happy with the result.

I called Kevin Hardwick, the former radio talk show host and Canisius College professor, who was one of the four victorious candidates. He was pleased at the win–62 percent!–but insisted he will not be a Collins rubber stamp.

“It kind of grates on me a little bit. We’re referred to as the Collins four, or the handpicked candidates. The assumption is we’re sock puppets, but that’s not the case with me,” he said. “Now I’m probably going to vote with him 85 to 90 percent of the time, but I would not necessarily say I would be in his camp automatically on a veto.”

Republicans were not able to oust Mark Poloncarz, the Democratic comptroller. He told me his victory was proof that voters do not want Collins to hold all the power.

“I don’t know if people looked at my race as a race about what they thought of Chris Collins. What I was hearing from people for the last few weeks is they like the job I was doing, and they like checks and balances in government,” Poloncarz told me by phone. “The people of Erie County were not going to allow one-person rule, and they want watchdogs.”

 

Republicans Gain in Erie County, But Does Collins?