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David Bellavia

June 25, 2019 - 5:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in joe marm, Medal of Honor, David Bellavia, news, notify.

Medal of Honor recipient Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia, right, shakes hands with another Medal of Honor recipient, Ret. Col. Walter Joseph Marm Jr. They are at a post-ceremony reception at the White House.

"Joe" Marm served in the Army from 1965 to 1995. On Dec. 19, 1966, he was given the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Battle of la Drang on Nov. 14, 1965 during the Vietnam War.

At the time, he was a second lieutenant and platoon leader of the 2nd Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Calvary Division (Airmobile). He is credited with single-handedly destroying an enemy machine gun position and several of its defenders, suffering severe wounds in the process.

For more information about Joe Marm, click here and here.

June 25, 2019 - 4:14pm
posted by Billie Owens in David Bellavia, Medal of Honor, white house, news, notify.

Here's a video of the just-concluded Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House for Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia.

June 25, 2019 - 11:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, Medal of Honor, news.

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This morning David Bellavia, who will be awarded the Medal Honor in White House ceremony this afternoon, was given a guided tour of the Lincoln Memorial. The tour included access not typically provided to tourists, including a climb up several narrow flights of stairs to the rooftop.

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When Bellavia arrived at the monument, Rochester newsman and author Bob Lonsberry (in Army T-shirt) asked to have his picture taken with him.

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David Bellavia talking with Congressman Duncan Hunter, a former Marine who also fought in Fallujah. Hunter represents a district that covers the eastern part of San Diego County, including El Cajon (my former hometown).

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Assemblyman David DiPietro, one of Bellavia's guests for the ceremony, takes a photo of the Washington Monument.

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Evan and David Bellavia.

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DiPietro and Michael Caputo.

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Bellavia with a pockmark in one of the walls on the roof of the monument. During World War II a 50mm gunner thought he saw something suspicious at the Lincoln Memorial and fired a single shot.

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Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt, Bellavia, and Hunter.

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Bellavia talking with Bernhardt.

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Bellavia and Hunter.

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Bellavia with some of the men he served with: Lucas "Doc" Abernathy, Salam Ulzuhairi, Chuck Knapp, Bellavia, and Joe Swanson. Ulzuhairi was the translator for Bellavia's unit in Iraq. He recently became a U.S. citizen.

June 25, 2019 - 12:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, news, Medal of Honor, batavia.

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This evening, David Bellavia, with his wife and family at his side, was honored in a reception attended by top Army leaders, previous Medal of Honor winners, and many of the men he served with in Iraq.

For the combat veterans in Washington to witness Bellavia receiving the Medal of Honor, it is the first time they've been together as a group since Iraq. The greetings were those of brothers, with great warmth.

Top photo: David Bellavia speaking with Leroy Petry, who received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan in 2008 during Operation Enduring Freedom. Also pictured on the right, Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch, who is from Rochester.

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David Bellavia receives a pin from Sherwood Goldberg, a civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army.

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David Bellavia and former CNN correspondent Michael Ware. While a CNN journalist, Ware was embedded with Bellavia's unit in Fallujah and witnessed Bellavia's actions on Nov. 10, 2004.

June 24, 2019 - 5:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, Medal of Honor, batavia, news, notify.

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Colin Fitts, a retired sergeant first class, says he is alive because of David Bellavia, the Batavia resident who will receive the Medal of Honor tomorrow in a ceremony at the White House.

On Nov. 10, 2004, Fitts and Bellavia and their men walked into an ambush in a house in Fallujah. Five insurgents had barricaded themselves in the house and didn't reveal their positions until after the platoon had entered. The platoon couldn't exit the house without exposing themselves to hostile fire. Bellavia commenced suppression fire allowing the men to escape.

Later, Bellavia reentered the house to try and finish the job because his men were still exposed to hostile fire from the insurgents in the house while they were on the street and single-handedly killed all of the insurgents in the house.

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David Bellavia

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Col. Douglas R. Walter, who was a company commander in Iraq and nominated Bellavia for the Medal of Honor in 2005, along with Maj. Joaquin Meno, who was a lieutenant in Bellavia's unit in Iraq, and Bellavia.

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Michael Ware, a journalist embedded Bellavia's unit, discusses what he witnessed Nov. 10, 2004. Ware entered the house with Bellavia and attempted to film the ensuing battle. Because he didn't have night vision goggles, he lost contact with David and when the house fell silent, Ware exited and said he had lost contact with "Sgt. Bell." Men from Bellavia's unit entered the house and by the time they located Bellavia he had already killed all of the insurgents in the house.

We'll have video from the press conference, along with interviews wiht Walter, Meno, and Fitts later.

June 18, 2019 - 5:24pm
posted by Billie Owens in David Bellavia, Medal of Honor, veterans.

A press release from Senator Rob Ortt (R,C,I,Ref-North Tonawanda):

Today, Western New York lawmakers honored the military service of Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia in the New York State Capitol. Bellavia, who will be awarded the Medal of Honor next week by President Trump, was recognized for his accomplishments while serving in the Army.

Senators Rob Ortt, Patrick Gallivan, Mike Ranzenhofer, Chris Jacobs, and Assemblyman Steve Hawley adopted a resolution that was read on the chamber floors, recognizing Batavia resident David Bellavia and his military service.

Bellavia will become the first living Iraq War veteran to receive the nation's highest military decoration.

While serving as a squad leader in Operation Phantom Fury, a 2004 American offensive on the western Iraqi City of Fallujah, Staff Sgt. Bellavia saved his entire squad when he cleared a housing block of enemy combatants who had pinned down his unit. Once Staff Sgt. Bellavia secured the safety of his squad, he re-engaged with the enemy combatants, reentered the house where enemy fire was located, proceeded to kill four enemy insurgents, and wounded a fifth.

Sen. Rob Ortt (R,C,I,Ref-North Tonawanda) said, “There’s no one more deserving of our nation’s highest military honor than David Bellavia – a true American hero. Because of the utmost bravery and heroism David displayed while leading his unit in Iraq, he saved the lives of those he was tasked with protecting. As Western New Yorkers, we couldn’t be more proud to have him as one of our own. And as Americans, we couldn’t be more grateful for his service.”

Sen. Patrick Gallivan (R,C,I-Elma) said, “Staff Sgt. Bellavia represents the very best of the brave men and women who serve and protect our country. His courageous and heroic actions in the midst of a fierce firefight not only saved the lives of his comrades but make him worthy of our nation’s highest military honor. We thank him for his service and for his steadfast commitment to our veterans and those who serve in the military today.”

Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer (R,C,I-Amherst) said, “It is truly an honor to recognize David Bellavia for receiving the nation’s highest military decoration – the Medal of Honor. David’s courage and selfless actions are an example of true heroism. We are truly grateful for his service.” 

Sen. Chris Jacobs (SD-60) said, “David Bellavia’s exploits in the streets of Fallujah are truly awe-inspiring and remind all of us why the American soldier is the strongest in military history and revered by the people he serves. He is an incredibly deserving recipient of the Medal of Honor and I share in the pride his hometown community of Western New York feels.”

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) said, “Staff Sgt. David Bellavia is a true example of the American courage, bravery and heroics that have forged our great nation and he is beyond deserving of this tremendous honor. His willingness to put the lives and protection of others above himself during the Iraq War’s most intense battle is a priceless act of selflessness to which we should all emulate and, for that, he is an American hero. I am honored to recognize Staff Sgt. Bellavia for his service to our nation and thank him for his sacrifices in protecting our country and its citizens.”

Bellavia will be awarded the Medal of Honor on June 25 at the White House.

June 17, 2019 - 5:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, news, steve hawley, David Bellavia, Medal of Honor.

Press release:

Coinciding with the 244th Anniversary of the United State Army, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) had the privilege of unanimously passing an Assembly Resolution Thursday in Albany honoring Staff Sergeant David Bellavia for receiving the Medal of Honor. The honor will be presented to him by President Trump on June 25.

Staff Sgt. Bellavia, who was born in Albion and lives in Batavia, will become the first living Iraq War veteran to receive the Medal of Honor after bravely rescuing his entire squad who had become trapped during the Battle of Fallujah. He then proceeded to engage the enemy, killing four and wounding a fifth, which ultimately led to the safety of three squads of the Third Platoon.

“Staff Sgt. David Bellavia is a true example of the American courage, bravery and heroics that have forged our great nation and he is beyond deserving of this tremendous honor,” Hawley said.

“His willingness to put the lives and protection of others above himself during the Iraq War’s most intense battle is a priceless act of selflessness to which we should all emulate and, for that, he is an American hero. I am honored to recognize Staff Sgt. Bellavia for his service to our nation and thank him for his sacrifices in protecting our country and its citizens.”

June 11, 2019 - 5:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, Iraq War, news, notify, video, Medal of Honor.
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Below, selected quotes. For the fuller context of each quote, watch the videos.

Thank you to Western and New York for love and support
David Bellavia opened the press conference acknowledging all of the Western New Yorkers who have contacted him over the past 72 hours and then discussed how the men who served in Vietnam didn't benefit from a warm homecoming, and that many veterans do not get the recognition they deserve.

"I just wish that more Vietnam veterans, Korean War veterans, everyone guys at V.A. hospitals. can feel half the love that Western York has given to me, and most importantly. the Gold Star families in Western New York and Rochester. These men and women have given up their sons and daughters and there's really, it's not just Memorial Day, it isn't one day a year for these families; it's every single day. And we still live with that and we still think about them. And you know I think about them, too."

The benefits of military enlistment
"If there's anything that can come out of this, hopefully, young people in Western New York will we'll see their country as more worthy than anything else in their life. We are a very special institution, the United States Army, and I encourage as many people to look at that as an opportunity to better themselves but more importantly better their communities and their country."

The call from the president
Bellavia said he was told in August that he would be receiving a call from a top official in the Department of Defense, though he didn't know why. When the call was repeatedly delayed, he admitted to some frustration

"I really didn't know who that could have been. It could've been Secretary of the Army. It could've been Secretary of Defense. But that senior member of the DoD was very difficult to get on the phone. So no offense to Secretary of the Army; I'm sure he's a busy person. But he can't be that busy because there was a very difficult time to get that individual to allocate time. I had no idea that the senior member of the DoD, he was the senior member of the DoD, being the commander in chief.

"It was pretty humbling. It was pretty life altering.

"I lost my dad a year ago and yesterday would've been his 75th birthday. It was pretty crazy that the White House announcement came on his birthday, but my dad was my hero. I loved him. I spent every day talking to him. When I deployed my dad would, he would type up play-by-play of the Buffalo Bills games as if I had no access to get scores in the Army. He would take the time to write me a six-page letter single-spaced (letters) on every play. I would read these no matter where I was, Kosovo, Germany, or Iraq and we just talked about the Bills no matter how bad the day was, it was about the Bills.

"My dad would always tell me something and I always thought he was just uncool because he's my dad but he'd always say, 'way to go.' He'd say, 'way to go, man.' That's what my dad would say. No one else has ever said that to me in my life because it's not something you would expect anyone to say. But as the whole conversation with the president he's going on, I'm not even listening. I'm just kind of...but at the end of it, he said. 'Good job. David. Way to go, man.' That's what the president said and I haven't heard anyone say that to me but my father and it just brought me right back down to Earth."

On being an Iraq War veteran
Bellavia acknowledged that the Iraq War is a controversial war and that many people believe the United States entered the war because of faulty intelligence.

"Listen, you know I'm not going to pretend to write -- the narrative the Iraq war as well established but the Iraq veteran has nothing to apologize for. The Iraq veteran has served with the same, in the finest traditions of any other generation at war. And, you know, there's a whole lot of men and women who -- Yeah, everything's changed. I have to represent those people because that's what we have to do.

"I can't tell you that looking back and seeing how a lot of people tend to look at the valor of a generation and say well are these good wars or bad wars. Iraq veterans are walking around with chips on their shoulder because they're regarded as part of the bad war the war of choice, the war that was based on bad intelligence and you know we're free to think and decide whatever you want. I think the narrative is written on that. But I would just caution us to not make the veteran feel the weight of that. I don't think it's their responsibility. Ninety-nine percent of these men and women served with honor and distinction and we really shouldn't have to apologize for where our nation sends us to fight."

Thoughts on the battle that led to the Medal of Honor
"When you go through a graveyard and you see someone born and died on the same day, you know, I always see that on a tombstone and think, you know, that's got to be horrible and I just imagined how someone could explain to my son why I chose to do this. I wanted someone to be able to articulate to my kid that it's not that I don't love you, it's that I love these guys, too. We're in this together and that's why it's so important to me to tell as many Gold Star families that if the roles were reversed their sons would be talking to my mom, and their sons would be talking to my kids, and their sons would be saying, 'don't forget what your son did.' "

On veterans and being a veteran
"I happen to believe that veterans make the best neighbors you can have. I think we make great employees. I think we make great teachers. I think we make great friends. 

"I'm forever grateful to the United States Army they gave me purpose and direction they gave my life meaning and value. I'm a better human being because of my service. And I think most of the people that I've served with can all tell you the same thing. And I encourage any man or woman that wants to become an individual in their community to serve the United States military."

On how he's changed since Fallujah; veterans are anti-war (from the interview)
"You know, I never saw the enemy as people. I think, now, when I have, when you have children, you think you know, obviously, you want your guys, America, the good guys, to be OK. But I also think back to, I don't want the enemy's children to take the road that their dads took. I don't want my kids to be fighting in conflicts with another generation. ... What are the things that we can do, especially when it comes to acknowledging that a lot of people think that war guys, veteran guys are pro-war, that we love this. You know, we're pretty anti-war. I mean, I don't know of any veteran that you've talked to that is like, 'this is the greatest thing in the world.'

"We're violently anti-war but with the goal, the end state is that we won't do this anymore. I mean, if you would've told me that I would join the Army because my son and daughters would also get to have this experience, I never would have done it. It's not worth it. You fight so that it stops here and it doesn't continue. And it would be heartbreaking to know that this is going to go on for another 25 years."

We also asked about his political future and he suggested he will not be a candidate for Congress in 2020. He said he believes the Army will keep him busy for the next 18 months to two years with Medal of Honor appearances.

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June 10, 2019 - 5:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, news, batavia.

The Department of Defense today released this video of Batavia resident David Bellavia discussing the fight with insurgents in Fallujah, Iraq, that led to his nomination for a Medal of Honor, which he will receive in a White House ceremony on June 25.

There is also an Army webpage available about Bellavia and the award.

June 10, 2019 - 10:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, news, notify, batavia.

Official announcement:

On Tuesday, June 25, 2019, President Donald J. Trump will award the Medal of Honor to David G. Bellavia for conspicuous gallantry while serving as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Army.

Then-Staff Sergeant David G. Bellavia will receive the Medal of Honor for his actions on November 10, 2004, while serving as a squad leader in support of Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq. Then-Staff Sergeant Bellavia was clearing a block of houses when his platoon became pinned down. He quickly exchanged an M16 rifle for an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, entered the house where his squad was trapped, and engaged insurgents, providing cover fire so that he and his fellow soldiers could exit safely. A Bradley Fighting Vehicle arrived to help suppress the enemy, but it could not fire directly into the house. Then-Staff Sergeant Bellavia reentered the house, armed with an M16, and assaulted insurgents who were firing rocket-propelled grenades. He proceeded to kill one insurgent and wound another, who then ran to another part of the house. Then-Staff Sergeant Bellavia was soon engaged by another insurgent rushing down the stairs when the previously wounded insurgent reemerged to engage him as well. Then-Staff Sergeant Bellavia returned fire, killing both attackers. He then took enemy fire from an insurgent who had appeared from a closet across the room. He pursued him up the stairs and killed him. Soon thereafter, he moved to the roof where he engaged and wounded a fifth insurgent, who fell from the roof of the building. That remarkable day, then-Staff Sergeant Bellavia rescued an entire squad, cleared an insurgent strongpoint, and saved many members of his platoon from imminent threat.

PERSONAL BACKGROUND:

David Bellavia enlisted in the United States Army in 1999. After previously serving in Kosovo, he deployed to Iraq in 2004 with Company A, Task Force 2-2, 1st Infantry Division. He was released from duty on August 16, 2005. David now has his own daily radio talk show for WBEN in Buffalo, New York. He continues to serve the military and veteran communities through a number of philanthropic organizations.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
THE MEDAL OF HONOR:

The Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their own lives above and beyond the call of duty while:

  • engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
  • engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
  • serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.

August 16, 2018 - 8:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, David Bellavia, news, NY-27, notify.

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The eight men who met with GOP party leaders in Geneseo yesterday to discuss their interest in replacing Chris Collins as the Republican nominee in the 27th Congressional District were met by a group of reporters as they walked into the meeting, including two hopefuls from Batavia, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, and Iraq War veteran David Bellavia.

Both Hawley and Bellavia stuck to an upbeat message about serving the district and noting the voters in the 27th are perhaps a little tired of scandal from their representative in Washington.

"We got to bring dignity back," Bellavia said. "These people (in the NY-27) have been through a lot. I mean, it's our second time around."

Bellavia was referring to Rep. Chris Lee, who was accused of posting shirtless pictures of himself on Craigslist while looking for transexual dates, and Rep. Chris Collins, currently under indictment on charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI.

"We've got to put that behind us and get a candidate that the people can get behind," Bellavia said. "Vitality is important and the Republican Party needs to bring energy back. You start by registering more Republicans and get more people to join the committees. That's the kind of a model that I'm bringing to the table and that's what I'm proud to represent."

Collins has bowed out of the race for 2018 -- a critical mid-term election for the GOP to try and retain a majority in the House of Representatives -- and now the Republicans are scrambling to figure out a legal way to get Collins off the November ballot, pick a new candidate and get that candidate's campaign up and running. All under the assumption that after the Collins fiasco, the Democrats are coming hard after this seat, fully funding Nate McMurray's effort to switch the 27th from red to blue.

Under the circumstances, Hawley suggested, the voters of the NY-27 are ready for an experienced representative with the maturity to handle the job.

"They've had a long, long road over the past eight to 10 years," Hawley said. "This is about representing people and having a feel for what it is they need and I think what they need is a calm, steady, firm hand and the ability to be able to listen to what their needs, wants and desires."

With a short campaign window, Hawley said he can raise the funds needed for the campaign, and though he can't afford to self-fund, he can make a contribution.

"I am a prolific fundraiser and the vice chairman of the Republican Campaign Committee and I have a healthy amount in my Friends of Steve Hawley account," Hawley said. "Where we should be looking is for small donations and contributions from people who think you would be able to do the job for them. Whether it's 10 dollars, 25 dollars, 50 bucks, that's really what America is all about."

Fundraising will be a challenge, Bellavia said but he also said it's going to take a lot of hard work to win the race.

"It's an 80-day election cycle," Bellavia said. "Everyone's worried about funding. The D Triple C is going to put in a lot of money into this campaign and you've got a guy out there in Grand Island -- who ... he's going to need a real estate agent to be your congressman -- but he's working his tail off. He's a good guy who's out there working hard and it's going to take a lot of elbow grease to be able to defeat him."

Hawley and Bellavia were showing up for kind of a candidates forum with 17 party leaders from the NY-27. This wasn't the formal interview with the eight county chairs nor were any decisions made about who to support as the party's nominee.

Also attending were Erie County Legislator Ed Rath, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, Assemblyman Ray Walter, State Senator Robert Ortt, former gubernatorial candidate and former Buffalo school board member Carl Paladino, and State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer.

Bellavia said the party bosses should pick the right person for the job, not somebody who just wants the title of congressman.

"My whole life has been about service," Bellavia said. "I mean, we were electing a congressman. Why are we doing this? Are we doing this for ourselves? Are we doing this because we're bored? Or are we doing this because it's our time and you know we held the position before but this one's really super juicy? Are we doing this because we want to serve our country? I believe that this country is worthy of any sacrifice and if I'm called to duty I'm going answer that duty you know."

Hawley also said the short election time frame will mean he needs to work hard if he's selected to represent the party but, he said, that isn't any different than what he does every election cycle.

"I have campaigned door-to-door in this Assembly District and before that for the county legislature, door-to-door all of the time," Hawley said. "Last time I didn't have an opponent. I didn't like that. I think people deserve a choice. And even though I had no opponent I still went door-to-door. Some people would say, 'What the heck you're doing here?' And I said, 'I'm here to ask for your support and listen to those questions you might have.' So, whether we've got an opponent or not, whether they're well-financed, whether they're well known, it's all about the people."

Top composite photo: Steve Hawley on the left, and David Bellavia.

Audio and images provided by our news partner, 13WHAM. For their story about the event, click here.

August 11, 2018 - 1:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, chris collins, David Bellavia, steve hawley, news, crime, notify.

The tweet that changed the complexion of the NY-27 congressional race had barely reached all of the followers of @repchriscollins before Republicans with aspirations to serve in Congress started declaring their interest in replacing Rep. Chris Collins on the GOP line of the November ballot.

Dick Siebert, chair of the GOP in Genesee County, said he's already heard from three candidates, including two from Batavia -- Steve Hawley and David Bellavia.

It will be up to the county chairs in the NY-27 -- given that the primary season is already past and it's less than three months to Election Day -- to pick whose name goes on the R line instead of Collins.

That is if a legal way can be found to get the incumbent's name off the ballot. Possibilities include, or so we are told, finding another elected office to appoint Collins to, such as a judgeship, or having Collins declare permanent residency in Florida.

"My reaction?" Siebert said when asked for his reaction to Collins suspending his campaign. "I was relieved that he did it. It was the right thing to do."

This morning, well before Collins announced he was getting out of the race, The Batavian interviewed Michael Caputo, a GOP political consultant from Buffalo and a close ally of President Donald Trump. Caputo talked at length about all the ways Collins staying in the race harmed Republicans and threatened the very survival of Trump's presidency.

"The scandal and prosecution are in small but profound ways a bad reflection on the president," Caputo said. "I don't think Chris Collins will ever darken the doorstep of the Oval Office again."

The president, Caputo said, learned a powerful lesson when he looked past allegations against Judge Roy Moore in the run-up to his Alabama Senate race about the Republican candidate's reputation for chasing teenage girls. 

Caputo said the closer he gets to Collins at this point, the greater the risk it will blow back in his face and he doesn't want a repeat of the Roy Moore fiasco.

"The president is inclined to look past mere partisan allegations because he weathers so many of those himself, but this 30-page indictment of the wealthy trying to preserve their wealth, it's a terrible look in the New York 27th, where the vast majority of voters are low to middle class on the economic scale," Caputo said.

It was Caputo who first introduced Trump to Collins in 2014 when Trump was considering a run for governor. Collins endeared himself to Trump during the 2016 campaign by being such a strong defender of Trump in television appearances but all that goodwill evaporated when Collins was arrested.

Then Collins became a liability, both because of the perception of his close proximity to the president, and because there is a recognizable danger of Republicans losing control of the House in the midterms.

"It may boil down to one or two seats," Caputo said before we knew Collins was dropping out of the race. "It may boil down to Nate McMurray and Chris Collins. If we lose control of the house, there will be impeachment proceedings, no doubt about it."

In an analysis of data about scandal-plagued incumbents running for reelection, the political prognostication site 538 gives Collins a slender 2 or 3 percentage point chance of winning the election in November.

With the race potentially cut down to a margin of two or three points, Caputo thought it would be a hard race for Collins to win without an energized base. He was already seeing rank-and-file party leadership peeling away from Collins since his arrest.

Collins would not be able to run an effective campaign without squarely addressing the allegations, which at his Wednesday press conference he was unwilling to do, Caputo said. Every time he appeared in public, the press would be there and the lasting image, if Collins wouldn't answer questions, would be of him running away from reporters.

And his own supporters wouldn't have been willing to defend him, then, in their neighbor-to-neighbor conversations.

"One by one, they (would) drop away and in the end, he (wouldn't) have the people to mount an effective get-out-the-vote effort," Caputo said.

That is the kind of tough-love analysis Collins probably heeded when he said in his withdrawal statement, "After extensive discussions with my family and my friends over the last few days, I have decided that it is in the best interests of the constituents of NY-27, the Republican Party and President Trump’s agenda for me to suspend my campaign for reelection to Congress."

The process for picking GOP congressional candidates for the GLOW region is heavily weighted toward Erie County and that process over the past decades has given us: Tom Reynolds, who retired under a cloud of scandals involving Rep. Mark Foley and the treasurer of National Republican Congressional Committee while Reynolds was chair; Chris Lee, who resigned after he was reportedly trolling for transgender women on Craigslist; and now, Chris Collins, accused of insider trading.

It's too soon to know if there are other GLOW-based candidates who might be interested in the seat beside Hawley and Bellavia, but there are Hawley and Bellavia. 

Steve Hawley, a six-term member of the state Assembly, was born and raised in Batavia, is a farmer, local business owner and was a member of the Ohio Army National Guard and the United States Army Reserves.

"Collins has suspended his campaign, whatever that means, but it's not clear if that means his name stays on the ballot or there may be some way to get his name off the ballot," Hawley said. "If that were to occur, I am proud to continue serving and helping people at any level of government and this is something I will look at if it comes up and certainly make a strong push for it."

David Bellavia was born and raised in Buffalo but is a longtime resident of Batavia. He is an American Iraq War veteran who was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during the Second Battle of Fallujah, along with other military awards and honors. He is currently a talk show cohost on WBEN. He lost a 2012 primary race to Collins, though he beat Collins in every county but Erie and Niagara.

"This is something I've dedicated 10 years of my life to doing," Bellavia said. "I'm committed myself since 2012  to correct my deficiencies in Erie and Niagara counties. I'm ready to run."

Previously:

September 4, 2015 - 11:48am

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Batavia resident, decorated Iraq War veteran, author and former congressional candidate David Bellavia (center) will be the emcee for the annual Bidding on a Brighter Future Gala at Genesee Community College on Sept. 19.

The annual event is a fundraiser organized by the Kiwanis Club of Batavia to benefit the Child Advocacy Center and Justice for Children. In its fifth year, organizers expect to cap the initial goal of raising $150,000 for a new CAC center. The CAC is now in quarters on East Main Street and the money may be used for rehabilitation of that facility.

The event is in the Forum starting at 5:30 p.m. and includes live, silent and basket auctions, entertainment and food. Tickets are $50 per person or $400 for a table of 10. 

To make a donation, become a sponsor or purchase tickets, visit GLOWGala.org.

With Bellavia in the photo, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman and CAC supervisor Anne Bezon.

January 6, 2014 - 3:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia.

The way David Bellavia sees it, there's no real chance of going back to Fallujah, not that he and few of his fellow Iraq War veterans haven't mentioned the idea in conversation.

The news reports of al-Qaida-linked forces capturing Fallujah and Ramadi hasn't sat well with Bellavia, nor the families of those who lost loved ones in battles to secure those cities for Iraq's government, said the Batavia resident who was awarded a Silver Star for his role in liberating Fallujah from insurgents in 2004.

"It's a black eye for our foreign policy in the Middle East," Bellavia said. "It's the same group we backed in Syria and not a damn thing was said about it. The enemy in Iraq is the very force that has tried to overthrow Assad. It shows how absolutely difficult the Middle East has become. This administration has decided Iraq is not important. All of the focus is on Afghanistan, so as far as Iraq goes, it's a closed chapter and we move on. For the veterans of that war, it's a bitter pill to swallow."

Bellavia said he talks regularly with fellow veterans and he's also heard from three families who lost loved ones in Fallujah and nobody is happy about the turn of events. It does indeed cause some to ask "what did we fight for?" -- he thinks that's really the goal of al-Qaida.

Bellavia compared the fall of Fallujah to the fall of Saigon, saying Fallujah is his generation's Normandy. He said it was sacred ground.

"Fallujah has no tactical value to the enemy at all," Bellavia said. "It's nothing but a moral victory. If you want to take over Iraq, you capture Basra and Baghdad. Taking over Fallujah is nothing but a thumb in the eye to Americans."

What's particularly galling, Bellavia said, is the seeming willingness of Fallujah residents, who once welcomed the Americans, now supporting al-Qaida.

"Before last month, we believed people (in Fallujah) appreciated the sacrafice, but you can't say that now," Bellavia said, "especially when you hear the locals are taking al-Qaida in and housing them and helping them stand against the government. What do you say to that?"

Perhaps if the administration had more aggressively pursued a status of force agreement that allowed more air cover for government forces, al-Qaida wouldn't have felt emboldened to capture the cities of the Al Anbar Province.

As it is, it didn't take much for the Islamic radicals to capture territory Americans once fought so hard to free.

"You know there's a problem when you get a report that a city fell and there are only eight people dead," Bellavia said. "That means whoever was defending the city just left. They didn't want to risk their blood to defend the city."

One thing Bellavia doesn't see happening is U.S. troops returning to Fallujah.

"I don't think anybody wants boots on the ground," Bellavia said. 

Even with the change in circumstances, al-Qaida isn't in full control of the city. Sunni tribal forces are also asserting authority while the Shiite-led government of Iraq has seemingly abandoned its posts.

Eventually, Bellavia believes, Iraq will muster sufficient security forces to retake Fallujah. But then what? The Sunnis and the radicals will just want it back, and so on, with no end in sight.

But perhaps, Bellavia said, that's the enduring lesson of Iraq, with consequences for U.S. foreign policy throughout the region.

"We can't be there forever," Bellavia said. "Were we going to have permanent bases in Iraq like Germany or Japan? That's the tough lesson. If they choose not to fight, they choose not to fight. It doesn't make it easier for those who lost loved ones, but we can't go back. We're all now 10 years from the fight. We have families. We have children. Would we want our sons and daughters to go back to Iraq and finish the job we couldn't? Absolutely not. There's no way I would want my son to go through anything like I went through. We served our country, we did it with honor and an unflinching sense of duty, but we can't save the world if we are the only ones willing to die for the cause."

June 27, 2012 - 1:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, kathy hochul, NY-27, chris collins.

In the end, David Bellavia expressed more regret for his volunteers than he did for himself.

"I’m just exhausted," Bellavia said. "I’ve been walking so many miles and...so many doors...and I’m just trying to think in my head, what could I have done more, what could I have done, but at the end of the day, I’m just so sorry to all of these volunteers who gave me so much time and effort. I just feel really bad that I let them down."

The decorated Iraq War veteran thanked several of his volunteers by name during his concession speech at the Clarion Hotel in Batavia on Tuesday night. He then pledged his support to the Republican party and the effort to defeat President Barack Obama and Rep. Kathy Hochul in November.

"I spoke to Mr. Collins and I congratulated him on his victory," Bellavia told his supporters. "I’m telling you right now, we are going to lock shields as a party. We are going to stand in the trenches shoulder to shoulder."

After a campaign in which Bellavia characterized Collins as a "country club Republican" who was out of touch with the rural voters of the GLOW counties, the natural question for Bellavia after his speech: Did you just pledge to stand behind Collins?

His answer, "We’re going to talk. I stand behind the party and the process. I don’t make any excuse for whether it’s perfect today. We lost. I have kids and it’s important that they understand that you have honor when you win and you have honor when you lose. I have no excuses. I’m a Republican. I want to see Republicans win. Chris and I will talk in the future and we’ll move forward."

If Bellavia backs Collins, it's unclear if many of his GLOW supporters will follow.

But at the Clarion on Tuesday night, one of Bellavia's volunteers clearly said she won't vote for Collins in November.

Michelle McCulloch believes Collins was at least tangentially responsible for losing her staff position with State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer.

"You’re asking a person who lost her job because Chris Collins didn’t want me helping someone else in the race," McCulloch said. "I have never tried to work against my party, but I have no use for Mr. Collins. I know what he is and he knows what he is. He will never have my vote or my family’s vote."

Asked if she would help Hochul's campaign, McCulloch said, "I’ll see how things play out. I guess I’ll listen to Kathy Hochul and see what she has to say and go from there."

McCulloch was among the volunteers Bellavia singled out for thanks during his concession speech.

"Michelle McCullough has sacrificed so very much for me and on the side of honor, principle and integrity," Bellavia said. "Your family is beautiful. Your husband is an outstanding man. I’m so sorry for what you’ve had to endure and we’re going to make it right."

Collins will now face Hochul, who won her seat in a special election in May 2011 in which she attacked Collins ally Jane Corwin for her support of the Paul Ryan Budget Plan. Within an hour of Collins declaring victory on Tuesday, the Hochul campaign sent out a press release attacking Collins on the same topic.

Statement from Campaign Manager Frank Thomas:

"Chris Collins has made it a hallmark of his campaign to avoid taking positions on key issues. But one thing is clear, Mr. Collins supports Paul Ryan's budget; a plan that turns Medicare into a voucher program and makes seniors pay $6,400 more for their Medicare benefits to fund tax cuts for multimillionaires. He has even has said that it does not go far enough.

“It is time that Chris Collins comes clean with voters about his plans to take the Ryan’s budget further. What more could he do on top of decimating Medicare and protecting the super rich? We hope that now that he is the nominee he is willing to answer questions on the issues that matter most to the people of the 27th district.”

Previously: Collins landslide in Erie County sinks Bellavia in NY-27 GOP primary

PHOTO: Bellavia during his concession speech with his wife, Deanna, his children and parents (not pictured, his brother, Rand).

June 26, 2012 - 11:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, NY-27, chris collins.

I imagine that by this point, anybody who cares knows that Chris Collins defeated David Bellavia in the NY-27 GOP primary. I spent the evening with the Bellavia camp at the Clarion Hotel in Batavia. I'll have pictures and quotes later.

Meanwhile, here are the available results:

With 98 percent of the precincts reporting, it's Collins 10,124 votes (60 percent) to 6,720.

Erie County dictated the outcome of the race, with Collins winning 5,889 votes to 2,094. Bellavia won every other county except Niagara.

Bellavia took Genesee County 1,105 to 683.

Wyoming County hasn't reported yet, but in Orleans and Livingston, it was Bellavia 758 to 389 and 854 to 679.

In the section of the district that covers Monroe and Ontario counties, it was Bellavia 1,048 to 586.

UPDATE: Wyoming County, Bellavia 734 to 623.

June 25, 2012 - 4:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, NY-27, chris collins.

Batavia, the heartland of the redrawn 27th Congressional District, became a hotbed of political activity today as the two candidates in the GOP primary engaged in some last minute campaigning with Buffalo TV news crews in tow.

Chris Collins stopped for lunch and handshakes at the Pok-A-Dot and David Bellavia stopped at GOP households along Naramore Drive, Batavia.

Collins and Bellavia both predicted victory and took a couple final swings at each other.

Collins on why Genesee County Republicans should vote for him rather than Bellavia:

"You need look no further than this campaign. We're spot on with the issues. We have a professional campaign, 100-percent positive, 100-percent focused and he’s taken a page out of the Barack Obama playbook -- divide and conqueror, vote against Chris Collins because he’s from Erie County. He’s insulted every resident in the county of Erie. He’s divided us just like Barack Obama, the haves, have nots, the ones, the 99s, we’re running on the issues. He’s running a negative campaign. People don’t like that."

Bellavia on Collins saying he's run a divisive campaign:

"It’s very funny, because I’m not campaigning against Erie County. I’m campaigning against him and the handful of individuals who make up the Erie County GOP machine who embarrassed the Erie County Republic Party, who have almost ruined the party in Erie County and have done nothing but embarrass us and fail us. He should have beat Mark Poloncarz handily. He didn’t. He talks about the 64 percent of Erie County in the district that voted for him, but there’s never been a menu option and now there’s another entree on the menu and he’s going to find out that a lot of people held their nose last time. It’s not about Erie County at all. It’s about Chris Collins."

At the Pok-A-Dot, after I turned off my tape recorder, Chris Collins and I discussed the likely voter turnout tomorrow. I said it would be low. Collins said that he had a deal with Genesee County GOP Chairman Richard Seibert that he wouldn't do robo calls in Genesee County if Seibert promised to get out the vote.

Collins said he had the same deal with Livingston County.

Collins repeated the statement, no robo calls if Seibert got out the vote.

This sounded like a deal between Collins and Seibert, who is officially neutral in the race (and the county GOP did not endorse a candidate).

Reached at his office, Seibert said there was no such deal.

Seibert said he had a conversation with Collins about robo calls during the Jane Corwin campaign, that people were getting as many as 16 calls a day and it didn't go over well with Genesee County voters.

"I told him that robo calls were killing us," Seibert said. "That's not what our people want or like."

Collins said he wouldn't do robo calls in Genesee County, but Seibert said there was no promise to get out votes for Collins.

The county GOP is not doing any specific get-out-the-vote effort, Seibert said. Individuals are free to support and work on behalf of either candidate and are doing so, Seibert said, but he hasn't asked any Republicans to work for either campaign.

Reached later, Collin's campaign spokesman Michael Kracker said Collins did not mean to leave the impression that Seibert promised to deliver votes for his campaign.

"Dick Seibert has been very good at remaining neutral in this race," Kracker said.

As for the predicted turn out, Seibert said he doesn't think it's going to be has big as he had hoped.

With David Bellavia being from Genesee County, he thought the Bellavia campaign would work hard to get out the vote in Genesee County, and that to counter that move, the Collins campaign would match the effort. Neither candidate, Seibert said, has put any extra emphasis on Genesee County and he's not hearing many people around the county talking about the election.

Seibert ordered enough ballots to handle a 40-percent turnout among Republican voters.

"I've got a bad feeling I ordered too many ballots," Seibert said.

June 24, 2012 - 9:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, NY-27.

David Bellavia wants to be your congressional representative because he has old-fashioned values -- honor, integrity and service.

He's a conservative Republican, but not the hardline hawk some might expect from a decorated Iraq War veteran whose book on his experiences is about to be made into a Hollywood movie.

In the GOP primary for the NY-27 congressional district, all he wants is a chance to debate his opponent, former Erie County Executive Chris Collins, because he thinks he can beat Collins on the issues.

"I want to be able to look him in the eye and say he’s not a true conservative," Bellavia said. "He can’t express these values. He doesn’t know these federal issues. And the only job he was probably most qualified for, he got voted out of office on."

Bellavia grew up in Orleans County and lives in Batavia with his wife and three children.

His top issues are jobs, agriculture, taxes and health care.

On jobs, he wants to reduce burdensome regulations, especially Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley, which he said makes it harder for smaller companies to raise funding and go public.

"No medium-sized business can compete if you have to pay for all of these compliance tasks," Bellavia said.

He would also like to end inheritance tax (aka, legacy tax or death tax) because, he said, it forces families to sell businesses.

"What better way to build a community than to have a business in the family for generation after generation." Bellavia said.

He also believes multinational corporations that are keeping a large portion of their profits overseas in order to avoid taxes should be granted amnesty if they bring the billions and billions of dollars back to the United States and use it to fund research and development and create jobs.

On taxes, he considers the capital gains tax unconstitutional because it taxes a person's money twice (once as earned income, second as investment income), and the corporate tax rate should be lowered from 37 percent to 25 percent.

Taxpayers should be able to choose, he said, between paying a graduated tax with deductions -- much like our current system -- or a flat tax with no deductions.

The first $20,000 a person earns should be tax free, he said.

Related to taxes is the need to reduce spending.

"We've got to aggressively slash entitlements in this country," Bellavia said. "If we continue to use the same principles as Europe, we're gong to wind up like France, Italy, Cyprus or Greece, the list goes on."

Bellavia supports the Ryan Budget Plan, at least the part that would block-grant Medicaid to the states. He said federal education funds should be handled the same way.

"Why is federal government holding the strings on education?" Bellavia said. "Let teachers teach and give powers back to the communities to control their own destiny."

On agriculture, the first order of business is to fix the worker visa program so that dairy farmers, in particular, can hire and retain workers.

"People in the city think crops grow at waist level," Bellavia said. "Farm work is hard work and we need to help workers come here from other countries. They don't want to be citizens. They don't consider themselves workers. They think of themselves as professional farmers who want to make a living, do their jobs and take care of their families back home."

The Environmental Protection Agency, Bellavia said, is "out of control." The regulations it puts on dairy farmers add high overhead and makes it harder for dairies to grow to meet new demand.

On health care, Bellavia believes that the Supreme Court will find Obama's health plan -- the mandate for health insurance -- unconstitutional.

But, he said, there's an easy fix: competition. Allow health insurance to be sold across state lines, with people -- not employers -- choosing where they purchase insurance, and creating a system of community-based healthcare cooperatives.

He also said tort reform would help bring down healthcare costs.

On foreign policy, Bellavia fears the United States will be dealing with problems in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan for another generation or more.

"It breaks my heart," Bellavia said. "I don’t want my babies to have to experience anything like I went through."

Afghanistan, he acknowledged, is looking a lot like Vietnam, an endless drain on American resources.

The U.S. has no strategy in Afghanistan, he said, and while the news media tends to portray the enemy as the Taliban, the groups that engage the U.S. military are more diverse than that, from tribal war lords to drug runners.

"We're not there to die and sacrifice and look good for the world," Bellavia said. "The mission is not worth it if we can't defend our brothers and protect them and do what we need to to bring them home.

"Right now, these men and women do not have rules of engagement they can follow. All this administration does and all Congress does is say, 'Oh, we've dropped another bomb and killed X number of people.' "

On trade, Bellavia says, "China is our enemy," and believes China needs to be confronted over currency manipulation.

He also believes foreign goods that compete with U.S.-made goods should be taxed.

Every component needs to be made in the U.S., he said, in order to avoid extra fees.

"If every one of those boxes isn't checked, another and another VAT," Bellavia said. "You can't call it a tariff. That's a bad word. Call it a value added tax, add it on. I'd like to see a Hyundai Elantra become a $70,000 car."

If Bellavia makes it to the general election, he knows there will be huge sums of money spent on his behalf trying to defeat Kathy Hochul. While Bellavia said he will have no control over these independent expenditures, he won't stand, he said, for ads that are nothing more than mud slinging.

"I have standards and honor is important to me," Bellavia said. "I’m a father. I'm an example to my children. I’m a husband. If I have an ad where an organization is showing representative Hochul throwing an elderly woman off a cliff, you better believe the next day after that commercial airs, I will stand up and say this is completely repugnant and unnecessary.

"I can beat her," he added. "I will beat her, but I’m going to beat her the old-fashioned way. With issues. We’re going to talk to the people. I don't need to smear Mr. Collins or Mrs. Hochul. I think their records stand for themselves."

June 20, 2012 - 11:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, NY-27, chris collins.

According to David Bellavia, when it comes to fiscal policy, his GOP primary opponent in the NY-27 race, Chris Collins, isn't conservative enough.

His proof: Collins said President Barack Obama's multibillion dollar economic stimulus spending was good for Erie County.

Collins was county executive for Erie County in 2009 and his office put out a newsletter saying as much, Bellavia said in a press conference today at his new campaign headquarters on East Main Street, Batavia.

"I can't find one fiscal conservative who agrees that Obama's stimulus was a good thing," Bellavia said.

Bellavia said Collins loved the stimulus plan so much that he asked that a total of $1.9 billion be channeled to Erie County.

In an effort to fact check Bellavia's statement, a Google search turned up a press release from the City of Buffalo in which Collins and Mayor Bryon W. Brown say they want to see Erie County and Buffalo receive the stimulus funds.

Collins quote:

“At a time when county resources are scarce, a possible injection of federal dollars could have a tremendous impact on Erie County’s aging and neglected infrastructure. Funding for even a fraction of these projects would represent a significant investment in our community, the opportunity to hire thousands of local workers, and reduce our need for capital borrowing in the future.”

Bellavia also said Collins used $85,000 in stimulus money to balance the Erie County budget.

Ask for a response via email, Michael Kracker, spokesman for Collins, wrote:

Chris Collins balanced the budget in Erie County the old-fashioned way -- by reducing the size of government, vetoing hundreds of additional spending requests from liberal Democrats and making government more efficient. Mr. Collins was actually threatened with a lawsuit by Democratic politicians like Louise Slaughter and Kirsten Gillibrand for NOT spending the stimulus money. Mr. Bellavia has his facts wrong.

While still in office, Collins did an interview with Buffalo's Art Voice and explained that Buffalo was receiving $75,000 in stimulus money, available through the efforts of liberal Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer, to offset anticipated shortfalls, as a result of the recession, for Medicaid expenses.

The other ongoing dispute between Bellavia and Collins is over the conditions of any debate.

Numerous times, Bellavia has said he wants a chance to debate Collins on the issues, but he claims Collins keeps dodging a debate.

On Tuesday, there was a debate scheduled in Clarence that Bellavia did not attend because, he said, the whole format was set up to favor Collins. Bellavia says the scheduled moderator is an Erie County legislator who has received substantial financial support from Collins, and that Collins wouldn't allow a reporter from the Buffalo News on the panel. Bellavia also asserts that the Erie County GOP was handing out tickets to only 200 Collins supporters. In addition, Bellavia wanted the debate to be televised.

Bellavia said that the no-debate stance by Collins is a strategy to marginalize the Bellavia campaign since Bellavia doesn't have a personal fortune to spend, as Collins does, on campaign ads.

Here's the response from Kracker on behalf of Collins:

As for the debates, Mr. Bellavia once again demonstrates an aversion to the truth. In May, Mr. Bellavia enthusiastically agreed to the debate sponsored by the ECFRW -- in front of over 100 people. It was only afterwards that his campaign made up numerous stories to cover for his ducking of the issues and Mr. Collins. His claims are simply untrue -- pure and simple. Of the five candidates invited to participate -- including all three U.S. Senate candidates, Mr. Bellavia was the only one who took issue with the terms and refused to participate.

UPDATE Thursday, 7:31 a.m.: Here's a link to a Buffalo News article on what happened with $41 million of the stimulus funds. (Link provided by the Bellavia campaign.)

June 14, 2012 - 7:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, David Bellavia, kathy hochul, NY-27, chris collins.

Kathy Hochul supports Obama, Obama is destroying the country, and only Mitt Romney in the White House and Chris Collins in the NY-27 seat can put things right, Collins told local reporters outside Batavia City Hall today.

“We have to defeat a representative who does not represent our core values," Collins said. "My core values are smaller government, personal accountability, local decision making, fiscal discipline, serving taxpayers and respecting future generations.

"These are not only the core values of the 27th Congressional District, they’re the core values of America. They are not President Obama’s core values. They are not Kathy Hochul’s core values."

Not once during his five-minute speech did Collins mention his GOP primary opponent, David Bellavia.

Asked about it, Collins said he is entirely focused on defeating Hochul on Nov. 6. Even if he loses the primary -- which he said he would win -- he will still be on the Conservative Party line and he said he intends to continue campaigning against Hochul right up until the general election.

"Kathy Hochul supports Obama," Collins said. "She is totally out of sync with the values of the 27th District. She won’t even admit she’s a Democrat."

According to recent reports, Hochul has a voting record that has not been in line with Obama or the Democrats.

The Buffalo News reported over the weekend that "Hochul is bucking the party line," noting that "Hochul voted with the Democratic Party line 81 percent of the time and with the Obama administration 78 percent of the time," which is less than other Democrats.

"Politico" noted that Hochul has not been the lapdog for Obama's health care policies that Democrats expected when she beat Jane Corwin -- in part because Hochul latched onto the GOP's Medicare reform plan as a wedge issue.

Still, Hochul did tell the Buffalo News she will vote for Obama, even though she won't attend the Democratic convention and, the News said, "she gives the president mixed reviews."

For Collins, however, Hochul and Obama are inexorably linked. 

The hook of Collins's remarks today was a statement by Obama that "the private sector is doing fine."

Collins said, the private sector isn't doing fine, not when there is 8.2 percent unemployment, China is cheating at trade and corporate tax rates are too high.

“We’ll keep talking about jobs and the economy, jobs and the economy," Collins said.

With Romney as president and Collins part of a GOP majority in Congress, Collins said policies would be enacted to put Americans back to work, most specifically, lowering the corporate tax rate to 25 percent.

He also said the nation's debt is too high and promised smaller government if the GOP is given a chance to lead the way.

"Small businesses have a lack of confidence in the future of our country," Collins said. "We have a president who let that happen because he needs to keep going to China to borrow money. We cannot continue to borrow $4 million a day, $1.4- $1.5 billion a year and have small business invest in our future. They don’t know where the future is going."

One point Collins and Hochul seem to agree on: Trade. 

Hochul kept her campaign promise and voted against free-trade agreements supported both by the GOP leadership and President Obama.

Collins said he would push for tarriffs on China if the nation continues its current trade policies, which include not letting its currency float on the open market, and giving Chinese businesses a 30-percent price advantage over U.S. companies.

Collins's message for China, "Float your currency, respect our IP, open your own markets -- or else. They need us more than we need them."

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