Assemblyman Steve Hawley is seriously considering a run for Congress.
The five-year veteran of Albany said that calls encouraging him to run began as soon as news hit that Rep. Chris Lee (NY-26) resigned following a revelation that he apparently tried to pick up a woman on Craigslist.
"I've been getting text-messages, phone calls and messages on Facebook from people throughout the district urging me to run," Hawley said. "I believe I have the background, experience and years in business."
Hawley then discussed his background and his family's background at length, hitting on both their deep involvement in the community.
"This is my community," Hawley said. "This is my home and this is my district. I know the business people and the people of the district as if they were family. So I'm seriously considering it."
He added that he was flattered that so many people have come forward to urge him to run.
Hawley said he was on the phone until midnight and on the phone all morning, including talking with each of the Republican county chairs in the district.
On the Democratic side, Genesee County Chair Lorie Longhany said first and foremost, "I'm going to back the Democrat. The Democrat who gets chosen is who I'm going to back."
She said the Democrats have not yet lined up behind a candidate, but there is a lot of talk going on among area leadership about who might make a good candidate.
Even though the registration advantages lean heavily in favor of Republicans, Longhany said in a special election, anything is possible.
"It's all about getting out the base, getting people motivated," Longhany said. "I've watched my party in other special elections across the state. We have a tremendous machine to get out the vote. I've seen our local Democrats work very hard to get out the vote. Yes, the Democrats can win this seat. Most definitely."
Hawley said the special election will get national attention, and Longhany agreed. Hawley said he believes even President Obama will take an interest in the election because the Democrats need to pick up votes in the House.
The GOP candidate, Hawley said, will need to be somebody with the financing to run the race and give 110 percent to the campaign.
While Hawley can't self-finance a race, he said he can raise the funds necessary. He said he's proven he can raise funds for himself and other candidates and he's been involved in successful fund-raising campaigns for nonprofits in the community.
"I don't have any qualms about being able to raise money," Hawley said.
Even so, Hawley said he isn't eager to give up his Assembly seat.
"I enjoy what I'm doing even though these are difficult times," Hawley said. "We now have a governor who has indicated verbally that he's ready to lead and he's ready to do the things that not just me but others say we should be doing to turn around the state and stop the spending spree. I'm excited about that, so leaving the Assembly would be difficult."
The GOP has a reputation in Western New York for running disciplined campaigns and backing chosen candidates. Hawley said each of the county Republican committees get a weighted vote on picking a candidate. It breaks down roughly to Erie County getting 40 percent, the rural counties getting 30, Monroe 20, and Niagara 10.
Hawley said he is friends with many of the other potential candidates and he will back whomever gets the nod.
PHOTO: File photo from Hawley's announcement of his re-election campaign in 2010.