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Rob Ortt

Ortt calls on McMurray to renounce endorsement by Working Families Party

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

Today, New York State Senator Rob Ortt, Army combat veteran, and candidate for New York’s 27th Congressional District is calling for Democrat and Working Families endorsed candidate, Nate McMurray, to give up his recent Working Families Party endorsement. Recently, the New York State Working Families Party called on candidates to “stop defending taxpayers,” and stated that using the term “taxpayer” is racist.

“Our district is home to around 710,000 ‘taxpayers’ who go to work every day to help support their families and build a better life,” Ortt said. “The fact that a candidate for New York’s 27th Congressional District would accept an endorsement from a political party that explicitly asked prospective candidates to avoid advocating for the taxpayers of our state is embarrassing.

"As elected officials, we are chosen by the taxpayers of our district to defend their best interests and do the will of the people. Any politician who accepts and endorsement from the Working Families Party clearly shows they have no interest in protecting hardworking taxpayers.”

The Working Families Party, backed by progressive donors, recently stated in the party’s 2020 questionnaire:

Messages that frame "taxpayers" as an aggrieved or marginalized group promotes an anti-tax, anti-government worldview that is often used to justify disinvestment and austerity policies. "Taxpayer" has also become a racially coded term designed to appeal to white individuals and reinforce the misconception that they are paying taxes to support the needs of people (often implied to be non-white) who don’t pay taxes. Will you avoid messaging that centers "taxpayers" or "tax burdens" and instead talk about "public funding" and the public as a whole?

Just this week, Nate McMurray accepted the endorsement of the Working Families Party line. The New York State Working Families Party has already endorsed several other candidates for 2020, including for U.S. President (Elizabeth Warren), U.S. Congress (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), and Democratic candidates for the New York State Legislature. Ortt called on all candidates running for office to denounce the Working Families Party and refuse their support. McMurray did neither.

“By accepting this endorsement, it is clear that Nate has not prioritized representing the best interests of the constituents in New York’s 27th Congressional District,” Ortt said. “Either he is ignorant of the agenda that the New York State Working Families Party stands for, or he has full knowledge of the statements made by this group and has decided that advocating for ‘taxpayers’ is racist. Either one is unacceptable and I call on him to give up his endorsement by this radically socialist party."

Rob Ortt releases statement on sentencing of Chris Collins

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

“The constituents of NY-27 deserve better, and today provides us the opportunity to close this disappointing chapter and start fresh," said NY-27 candidate Rob Ortt. "This district deserves a faithful and hardworking conservative representing them in Congress, putting the needs of Western New York and America first. I believe I am the candidate best qualified to do so and it is my sincere hope that I’m afforded the opportunity to once again serve my country.”

Rob Ortt releases radio ad for NY-27 campaign

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

Today, New York State Senator Rob Ortt, Army combat veteran, and candidate for New York’s 27th Congressional District released a new radio ad highlighting his record as a battle-tested patriot who, like President Trump, has successfully fought back against false liberal attacks.

The advertisement, released in both Buffalo and Rochester, focuses on Ortt’s successful fight against partisan attacks from corrupt former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. As he did to President Trump, Schneiderman falsely accused Ortt of politically motivated charges. Those charges were quickly laughed out of court by a Democrat judge. Meanwhile, Schneiderman resigned in disgrace after his history of abusive behavior toward women was exposed. 

“President Trump has faced false attacks from the radical left since he first announced his campaign for President," Ortt said. "Since taking office, the President has had to fight back against countless liberal regressive witch hunts. I know what that’s like because those same crooked politicians attacked me for my conservative values.

"I stood up to politically motivated attacks from the disgraced Eric Schneiderman and I won -- just as President Trump has done. Now, I want to go to Washington to fight by his side against this impeachment sham and help him advance the conservative agenda he was elected to enact.”

Beginning on Jan. 13th the radio campaign highlighting Ortt’s record as a battle-tested patriot will air on talk radio across the 27th Congressional District.

The radio advertisement can be heard here.

Ortt calls for more sanctions on Iran

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

Today, New York State Senator Rob Ortt, Army combat veteran and candidate for New York’s 27th Congressional District, is calling for the State Legislature to take action on Senate Bill 5156, which would amend and strengthen the 2012 passage of the state’s Iran Divestment Act. This legislation would amend the current language of the Iran Divestment Act, conforming current definitions to fit state law.

"New York shouldn't be investing in a country in the business of killing American citizens and military personnel or support a fundamentalist regime committed to wiping Israel off the map,” Ortt said. “Rather than condemning the legitimate use of force in killing one of the leading architects of terrorism across the Middle East (Qasem Soleimani), Senate Democrats should send an unequivocal message that Iran's disturbing past and current aggression is wholly unacceptable.

"Senate Republicans prioritized and passed this important legislation for several years and it is time for Democrats to get on board and condemn this terror-sponsoring, American-killing, the anti-Semitic Iranian regime."

Ortt believes that Iran’s mounting aggression and recent threats necessitate immediate action by New York lawmakers. Senate Republicans successfully passed this bill from 2015-2018, but Senate Democrats have yet to take it up for a vote. The bill memo and justification notes that Iranian leaders have repeatedly sought to target New York City should they acquire a nuclear weapon, putting at risk the health and safety of New Yorkers.

Ortt also contrasted the inaction on Iran with state and national Democrat calls to divest from Israel.

Statements released on killing of Major General Qasem Soleimani

By Howard B. Owens

Statement from State Sen. Rob Ortt, candidate for NY-27:

“Soleimani and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force has long been a terrorist organization. They are directly responsible for hundreds of U.S. servicemember deaths in Iraq. Iran’s goal has always been to destabilize Iraq and exert its influence in the Middle East. This strike eliminates one of the masterminds of those efforts.”

Statement from State Sen. Chris Jacobs, candidate for NY-27:

“I applaud President Trump for taking decisive action yesterday to neutralize a long-standing terrorist threat - Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force. Soleimani was responsible for killing hundreds of American Soldiers and injuring countless more. The organization which he headed up (Quds Force) has been designated as a terror group since 2007 and this past spring Sec. Pompeo designated him a terrorist. The airstrike which killed him is another example of President Trump’s strong leadership in confronting Iran’s continued perpetration of state-sponsored terrorism and President Trump continues to stand for freedom and justice on the global stage.”

Statement from Sen. Chuck Schumer:

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the airstrike in Iraq against Major General Qasem Soleimani. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:

Last night, the United States conducted a military operation designed to kill Major General Qasem Soleimani, a notorious terrorist. No one should shed a tear over his death.

The operation against Soleimani in Iraq was conducted, however, without specific authorization and any advance notification or consultation with Congress. I am a member of the Gang of Eight, which is typically briefed in advance of operations of this level of significance. We were not.

The lack of advanced consultation and transparency with Congress was put in the Constitution, or rather the need for advanced consultation and transparency with Congress, was put in the Constitution for a reason: because the lack of advanced consultation and transparency with Congress can lead to hasty and ill-considered decisions. When the security of the nation is at stake, decisions must not be made in a vacuum. The framers of the Constitution gave war powers to the legislature and made the executive the commander-in-chief for the precise reason of forcing the two branches of government to consult with one another when it came to matters of war and of peace.

It is paramount for administrations to get an outside view to prevent groupthink and rash action—to be asked probing questions, not from your inner and often insulated circle but from others, particularly Congress, which forces an administration, before it acts, to answer very serious questions.

The administration did not consult in this case, and I fear that those very serious questions have not been answered and may not be fully considered.

Among those questions:

  • What was the legal basis for conducting this operation? And how far does that legal basis extend?
  • Iran has many dangerous surrogates in the region and a whole range of possible responses. Which response do we expect? Which are most likely?
  • Do we have plans to counter all of the possible responses? How effective will our counters be?
  • What does this action mean for the long-term stability of Iraq and the trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives sacrificed there?
  • How does the administration plan to manage an escalation of hostilities? And how does the administration plan to avoid a larger and potentially endless conflagration in the Middle East?

These are questions that must be answered.

It is my view that the president does not have the authority for a war with Iran. If he plans a large increase in troops and potential hostility over a longer time, the administration will require Congressional approval and the approval of the American people.

The president’s decision may add to an already dangerous and difficult situation in the Middle East.

The risk of a much longer military engagement in the Middle East is acute and immediate. This action may well have brought our nation closer to another endless war, exactly the kind of endless war the president promised he would not drag us into.

As our citizens and those of our allies evacuate Iraq and troops prepare for retaliatory action, Congress needs answers, to these questions and others, from the administration immediately. 

And the American people need answers as well.

Ortt calls on McMurray, Democrats to distance themselves from Working Families Party

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

Today, New York State Senator Rob Ortt, Army combat veteran, and candidate for New York’s 27th Congressional District criticized the New York State Working Families Party for calling on candidates to “stop defending taxpayers.” Ortt called on Nate McMurray and all Democrats running for office to publicly declare that they will not seek the Working Families Party line in an election, and to publicly denounce this ridiculous statement.

“New York’s 27th Congressional District is home to hundreds of thousands of ‘taxpayers’ who work hard every day to support their families,” Ortt said. “In fact, these taxpayers pay the highest taxes in the country and are forced to fund the radical proposals from groups like the Working Families Party including free college tuition and driver’s licenses for illegal aliens.

"Any politician who can’t speak out in opposition to these absurd comments from the Working Families Party does not deserve to represent the hardworking taxpayers in any elected position.”

The Working Families Party, backed by progressive donors, often aligns itself with candidates running as Democrats. In the party’s 2020 questionnaire, they state: 

Messages that frame "taxpayers" as an aggrieved or marginalized group promotes an anti-tax, anti-government worldview that is often used to justify disinvestment and austerity policies. "Taxpayer" has also become a racially coded term designed to appeal to white individuals and reinforce the misconception that they are paying taxes to support the needs of people (often implied to be non-white) who don’t pay taxes. Will you avoid messaging that centers "taxpayers" or "tax burdens" and instead talk about "public funding" and the public as a whole?

The New York State Working Families Party has already endorsed several candidates for 2020, including for U.S. President (Elizabeth Warren), U.S. Congress (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), and Democratic candidates for the New York State Legislature. In 2018, Nate McMurray ran for Congress on the Working Families Party line. Ortt called on all candidates running for office to denounce the Working Families Party and refuse their support.

“This is an absolute insult to every overtaxed working family throughout New York,” Ortt said. “Anyone who seeks the Working Families Party support is clearly stating that they do not work for the men and women they are elected to represent, but rather a political party tasked with fulfilling the agenda of out-of-touch special interest groups and extreme regressive advocates.”

Ortt endorsed in NY-27 by builders association

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

Today, New York State Senator Rob Ortt, Army combat veteran, and candidate for New York’s 27th Congressional District announced that he has received the endorsement of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the more than 20,000 hardworking men and women represented by the Associated Builders and Contractors,” Ortt said. “I am proud to have had the support of this organization in the past, and I have always believed that America is a nation of builders.

"During my time in the New York State Senate, I have worked diligently to support pro-business, worker-friendly policies that make construction projects safer and less costly, and I will continue to do so when serving the hardworking men and women of New York’s 27th Congressional District in Washington. The American economy is working when these men and women are working.” 

ABC represents more than 20,000 members of the national construction trade industry, helping individuals win work and deliver work safely, ethically, and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which they are located.

“The Empire Chapter supports fair and open competition, not politicians who favor rewarding campaign donors at the expense of every day New Yorkers,” said Brian Sampson, president of Associated Builders and Contractors, Empire State Chapter. “Rob Ortt not only understands the importance of free enterprise and job creation but is a leader on the issue.

"He has seen first-hand the negative impact of tax burdens and poor regulatory policy decisions. ABC is proud to stand with Rob and share his vision to bring jobs and opportunity to hardworking families throughout our great nation.”

Ortt attacks House vote to hold impeachment inquiry

By Howard B. Owens

Press release from the NY-27 campaign of Sen. Rob Ortt:

“Today’s house resolution vote was nothing more than a partisan attack on a sitting president going into the 2020 election.

The only platform of Democrats is, and for the last three years has been, impeaching President Trump.

This vote only serves as a distraction from the fact that Democrats have not done anything for middle-class Americans.

These types of actions do nothing but further separate an already divided nation and create animosity amongst everyday Americans.

I am running for Congress to help put an end to this partisan witch hunt, and help our President do the job the American people elected him to do.”

Video: Sen. Rob Ortt visits The Firing Pin in Bergen

By Howard B. Owens
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Sen. Rob Ortt, who is also a candidate for congression in the NY-27, spent much of his day in Genesee County on Wednesday, first attending the veterans town hall in Corfu about the new national cemetary, then paying a visit to The Firing Pin in Bergen, and then holding a meet-and-greet at Ken's Charcoal Pits & Bar-B-Q.

The Batavian caught up with Ortt at The Firing Pin.

NYS Sen. Rob Ortt issues statement about the vital need to 'defend President Trump's agenda'

By Billie Owens

A statement from Bronze Star recipient and New York State Senator Rob Ortt:

“It is vital that we continue to have a strong, conservative voice representing the residents of New York’s 27th Congressional District and elect a candidate who will defend President Trump’s agenda," Ortt said. "I am the only candidate in this race who has proven that they are willing to do both.

"It is time that we send a battle-tested patriot to Washington who will stand up for our district, stand up to the Party of Impeachment, and push back against the radical socialists running our nation’s Democrat Party.”

Ortt announces for NY-27 primary, says Trump needs 'battle-tested patriot' in DC to back his agenda

By Howard B. Owens
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Sen. Rob Ortt on Saturday, in announcing his run for the NY-27 congressional district, hung his star -- his Bronze Star -- on his military service and what he said are his conservative credentials as a "battle-tested warrior."

It's a phrase he is using on his campaign signs, he used in his speech and in his remarks to the media after his announcement.

Ortt came to Batavia, which he said is the heart of the district, and made his announcement in front of City Hall, where just a month ago, Medal of Honor winner David Bellavia received the Key to the City.

"This really is the heart of the district," Ortt said. "We wanted to make a point, we wanted to be here in Genesee County, in Batavia, because if you think about Genesee County, Orleans County, Livingston, Wyoming even parts of Ontario, it's rural New York. It's rural America.

"Those are the values that we talk about all the time that we're losing in places like Albany and Washington, D.C. These are values that our party talks about defending all the time. And I think it's important that you are actually where those folks live. This is the heart of the district in my opinion."

Ortt talked at length about his decision to serve in the military after 9-1-1 and take part in the War on Terror and what his service meant to him.

"I was lucky to return home to Meghan and my family but I wear a constant reminder on my wrist of four of my brothers in arms who were not so lucky," Ortt said. "That is what motivates me and inspires me to this day. These men and countless others died for an idea that we refer to as America. My commitment to that idea did not end when I took off my uniform."

Ortt said he is fully committed to defending President Donald Trump, that he wants to go to Washington to support the president's agenda. He said he supports tighter border security, accused Democrats of being for "open borders," and said he wants to build a wall along the Southern border.

"I deployed to the Southern border as part of Operation Jumpstart," Ortt said. "I know what our Border Patrol is up against. We need to build the wall. We need to increase funding for border security of all kinds. And we need to close the loopholes that are allowing people to cut the line and waltz in here consequence-free."

Ortt said Democrats in Washington are pushing a radical agenda and he wants to go there and fight it.

"Albany, and by extension New York State, is a stark warning to the rest of the country," Ortt said. "We already know here what the Democratic Socialist agenda is: Higher taxes. Open borders. Driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. Unionization of our farms. Abortion on demand, more rights for criminals, and more gun control for our law-abiding gun owners."

Ortt said he has been named through multiple years the most conservative member of the Senate and that he is experienced in standing up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"I will do the same to the extreme radical Speaker of the House," Ortt said. "You all know who I'm talking about. She runs the Democratic policy agenda and she has never seen a camera she doesn't like. And she's a New Yorker.

"Her name is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She has a couple of deputies, too: Nancy Pelosi and her America-hating squad members Ilhan Omar and  Rashida Tlaib. I look forward to meeting all of them."

Earlier in his speech, Ortt accused some Democrats of hating America and said, "If you don't love this country, you're free to leave. Our borders work both ways."

After these statements and statements about how well he believes the country is doing under Trump, Ortt said, "So if you hadn't guessed it, I support President Trump. And I'm not afraid to talk about his agenda and all the good that I believe he's doing for this country."

He concluded his speech with, "I am Robert Ortt. I'm a conservative warrior. I'm a battle-tested patriot and I will never back down from the fight. I'm not running for Congress to have a seat at the table. I'm running for Congress to flip the table over."

At no time during his speech did he mention the incumbent congressman, Chris Collins, who is facing a House ethics investigation and a federal trial on insider trading charges and has yet to announce whether he will seek reelection. Asked about Collins after his speech, Ortt said he is committed to the race and will run in a primary against Collins should Collins decide to try and retain his seat.

"This race is wide open and I think it's so important that we have a strong conservative veteran voice, a battle-tested leader, in this race," Ortt said. "I think it's important for the people of this district and I think it's important for our country for our president."

Also left out of Ortt's comments were the names Chris Jacobs, Beth Parlato, and David Bellavia. Neither Jacobs nor Parlato have yet to make a public appearance in Batavia, but both are running in the primary election on June 2020. And while there is a "Draft David Bellavia" movement among a group of Republicans in the district, Bellavia has remained neutral on political questions since receiving the Medal of Honor.  He is currently serving the Army in publicity and recruiting capacity and is prohibited from making statements about his political plans. It's unclear when his status will change and what his intentions might be toward the seat.

The video contains Ortt's full remarks, including the discussion with reporters after the event.

After Ortt's announcement, Jacobs released the following statement:

“I want to welcome my friend Rob Ortt to the campaign for New York’s 27th district. As a conservative who has created jobs, I’m running for Congress because our community needs a fighter for small businesses who can help President Trump enact better trade deals and stop the illegal immigration crisis. I intend to run an issues-based campaign focused on my record protecting taxpayers, cutting fees and defending the 2nd amendment and I welcome Rob to that conversation.”

Sen. Rob Ortt schedules press conference in Batavia tomorrow regarding NY-27 race

By Howard B. Owens

Sen. Rob Ortt, who represents Tonawanda and surrounding areas in Albany, has scheduled a press conference tomorrow to discuss the NY-27 congressional race.

The media advisory does not explicitly say he is planning to announce a primary challenge to Rep. Chris Collins.

Collins, facing a federal indictment on insider trading charges and a House ethics investigation, while maintaining his innocence, has been noncommittal about whether he will seek reelection.

That has kept many potential challenges, including Assemblyman Steve Hawley, on the sidelines.

Hawley reiterated today, "As I have always maintained, we have an incumbent congressman. I will make a decision once his status is known."

Assuming Ortt, a NY Army National Guard veteran who served in Afghanistan and earned a bronze star in combat, enters the race, he will join two other candidates in the primary field against Collins. The other candidates, who have yet to make a publicly announced visit to Batavia, are Chris Jacobs and Beth Parlato.

In the past few months, Ortt has paid a bit of attention to Genesee County, hosting a public forum in Batavia on the farm labor bill and visiting a farm in Corfu, where he first shared a possible interest in running for this congressional seat.

While there is an effort to convince Medal of Honor recipient and Batavia resident David Bellavia to enter the race, Bellavia has taken no public position on the race and is maintaining a busy schedule with the Army to promote service to community and country.

If Rep. Collins runs for reelection, he could face primary challenges from Ortt and Hawley

By Howard B. Owens


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If Rep. Chris Collins, dogged by ethics and criminal investigations, decides to run for reelection in 2020, he could face a primary challenge from fellow Republicans, including Sen. Rob Ortt, who visited Reyncrest Farms in Corfu this morning.

"I'm going to make my decision based on my own discussions with my wife, discussions with my family and friends and people I trust, and will do what I think is best for the district," Ortt said. "Obviously, I've got to make the decision that that's right for Rob Ortt, where I think I can serve best to be a voice on issues that matter to me whether it's in the State Senate or in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"So, you know, we'll make that determination on our own timeline. Obviously, probably sooner rather than later, but we're going to make that decision of on our own timeline apart from whatever other people may do."

Other people, of course, includes Collins, who told The Batavian three weeks ago that he has yet to decide whether he would run for reelection.

Collins is facing a Federal court trial on charges stemming from an alleged insider trading conspiracy. Collins, along with co-defendants Cameron Collins and Stephen Zarsky, is accused of securities fraud, wire fraud, and making false statements to FBI agents.

Besides the criminal case, a House of Representatives Ethics Committee is also looking into his conduct involving his holdings in Innate Therapeutics.

Other people mounting a primary challenge would also include State Sen. Chris Jacobs, who reportedly announced his intention this morning to run against Collins, and Batavia-resident Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

Reached by text message this afternoon, Hawley said he is indeed considering challenging Collins, depending on the situation with Collins.

"I'm strongly considering it," Hawley said.

Another Batavia resident, combat veteran David Bellavia is also considered a potential candidate. Bellavia has yet to respond to a text message asking him about his intentions for 2020.

Ortt, himself also a combat veteran, said his decision will come entirely independent of what Collins decides to do.

"He's got to do what he thinks is right," Ortt said. "Again just like me, he will do what he thinks is right for himself, for his family and given his situation, but he also has a responsibility to do what's right for the district.

"If he does not think he can serve this district in an effective way, then I think the right thing would be at some point to make a determination to step aside and let someone else come in."

Collins narrowly beat Nate McMurray in the 2018 election and McMurray seems to be a likely Democratic contender in 2020. We asked Ortt, given a potentially strong Democratic candidate and the legal and ethical issues facing Collins, if Collins should step aside and Ortt said he would never suggest to Collins, or any other potential candidate, that he not run.

"This is America," Ortt said. "There will be a lot of people I imagine that might jump into this race. If (Collins) thinks he can make an effective argument of why he should be retained as the congressman, I would welcome that as much if I was in the race as anything.

"I'm not going to say one person should run or should not run because ultimately the people of the 27th District, particularly Republican voters in a primary, they're going to make that determination about who they think can effectively, not only defend the president's agenda or defend the agenda that's important to this district, but also represent them in a way that they think they'd be proud of."

UPDATE 3:50 p.m.: We heard back from David Bellavia. He is considering a run for Congress in the 27th. "Not afraid of primaries," Bellavia said in a text message. "Especially ones involving Rep. Collins and Senator Jacobs."

UPDATE 5:34 p.m.: Statement from Nate McMurray on the possibility of a primary challenge to Collins:

"It's understandable that some would see an opportunity in Collins' legal predicament, but let's not pretend that Collins was an effective leader prior to that. Our grassroots network has been fighting for the people of the 27th Congressional District well before his indictment last August and never stopped.

"I think it's unfortunate that anyone would evaluate running in this district based on personal political gain, or in order to keep it in Republican hands. Hyper-partisanship is the last thing the people of Western New York need right now and the voters here confirmed that last November by reelecting Collins by a mere .37%. The district went purple and people crossed party lines. It shows that business-as-usual will no longer fly. We will continue to prepare for whatever comes next, and look for opportunities to bring people together."

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