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Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 1:51 am

Bellavia thanks volunteers, pledges support to GOP after primary loss to Chris Collins

post by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, David Bellavia, kathy hochul, NY-27

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).

Friday, June 22, 2012 at 10:07 am

Hochul goes to bat against breast cancer in annual Capitol Hill softball game

post by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul

Press release:

Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) competed in the fourth annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game against female members of the Capitol Hill Press Corps.

“This event is a great opportunity to have a little fun with my colleagues and some of the journalists who cover us,” Rep. Hochul said. “I was happy I got to play centerfield this year since that’s where I’m most comfortable — not too far to the right and not too far to the left. I’m sure the reporters all noticed my prowess in the center and how well I worked with my bipartisan teammates.”

The press team defeated the congressional team 13 to 10.

The proceeds from this year’s event are going to the Young Survival Coalition, a group dedicated to young women affected by breast cancer.

Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Hochul introduces legislation to help vets get certification for military training

post by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, veterans

Press release:

Today, Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) introduced the Vocational Employment and Technical Skills Act (VETS Act), which will make it easier for veterans to receive professional certification in skills they performed while members of the armed services.

“The VETS Act is a commonsense solution to a problem facing too many veterans -- difficulty getting a job when returning home. After talking to troops during my trip to Afghanistan and many conversations with local veterans, I remain concerned that one of the biggest fears our troops are dealing with is the prospect of unemployment after their tour of duty. This legislation will help veterans who have put their lives on the line protecting us overseas make the transition to civilian life using the technical skills learned in the military,” Rep. Hochul said.

To assist veterans transitioning to civilian life in finding employment, the VETS Act will eliminate unnecessary hurdles for veterans who have a high level of competence in many certifiable fields. The legislation requires states to alter their certification procedures to take veterans’ military training into account if they seek to become a surveyor, plumber, general construction equipment operator, HVAC repair person, carpenter, electrician, or an automotive/aviation engine repair person.

Earlier this month, Rep. Hochul held a roundtable discussion on the VETS Act to receive input on the legislation from members of Western New York’s veteran community. Additionally, the bill has been reviewed and approved by Rep. Hochul’s veterans advisory board.

Rep. Hochul is also a co-sponsor of other legislation to encourage the hiring of veterans, including the Hiring Heroes Act that modernizes and improves programs to assist our veterans with the transition from service member to civilian life. She voted in support of the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011 – a bill that received bipartisan support – that provides assistance to older, unemployed veterans and provides active duty service members with transition and employment assistance.

In May, Rep. Hochul traveled to Afghanistan as part of a bipartisan Armed Services Committee oversight trip.

Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Chris Collins stops in Batavia to speak out against Hochul and Obama; Bellavia, not so much

post by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, David Bellavia, kathy hochul, NY-27, politics

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."

Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Hochul announces help for farms from USDA with armyworm infestations

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, kathy hochul

Press release:

Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Services Agency (FSA) can now file weather-related disaster reports for damage done by armyworms due to the fact that they have arrived earlier than expected and in unprecedented numbers because of the unseasonably warm weather this spring.

“I am pleased to hear the USDA Farm Services Agency will now allow farmers to file weather-related disaster reports for damage done to crops from armyworms," Hochul said. "This is an important step toward the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets declaring the armyworm infestation a disaster, allowing farmers whose crops have been devastated access to low-interest emergency loans to help in the recovery. I urge farmers that have been affected by armyworms to contact their local Farm Services Agency and report their loss immediately.”

Farmers should report their losses to their county Farm Services Administration to begin documenting the extent of the damage. If the FSA can document a countywide loss of 30 percent or greater for a single crop, they can then submit their data to NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets for a potential disaster declaration – allowing access to low-interest emergency loans.

Monday, June 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Hochul announces grant for local Head Start program

post by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul

Press release:

Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) today announced that a grant of almost $1.2 million for Head Start projects has been awarded to Community Action of Orleans and Genesee, Inc.

“I am pleased that Community Action of Orleans and Genesee will be receiving this funding to support the Head Start program that so many families depend on to prepare their children for school. The continuation of this program is great news for the children of Orleans and Genesee counties and their parents,” Rep. Hochul said.

The total grant award of $1,174,114 is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Head Start promotes the school readiness of children ages birth to 5 from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social and emotional development.

Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Hochul, after one year in office, says she takes her job title seriously: Representative

post by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, NY-26

Last week, Rep. Kathy Hochul marked her first year in office, and it's been a busy year for the freshman Democrat who won a special election over Republican Jane Corwin.

Genesee County political observers estimate that Hochul has spent more time locally than her predecessors, Tom Reynolds and Chris Lee, combined.

"That's where the people are," Hochul said, explaining why she makes so many public appearances in the district. "That's where I can listen, find out their concerns. My title is U.S. Representative and the best way I can execute my duties is to listen to people.

"Every time I’m out out in the community I learn something new and I find another way I can serve my district," she added.

Upon taking office, Hochul said she found a backlog of constituent issues and immediately hired staff that would focus on constituent issues.

So far, she said, her staff has helped constituents garner $800,000 in benefits owed to them by the federal government for one reason or another but had been held up by red tape.

Listening to constituents, she said, is why she continues to oppose the Ryan budget plan and its cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

Genesee County, already with a heavy Medicaid burden, would see it increase under the Ryan plan, Hochul said.

"The Ryan budget plan would convert Medicaid into a block grant program, and that's one of the many reasons I'm against it," Hochul said. "It would make for higher costs for county taxpayers and taxpayers across Western New York. It would limit how much counties get and the localities would have to pick up the cost."

But listening to constituents, she said, is also why she was one of only 24 Democrats, and the only one from New York, to support the balanced budget amendment.

Democrats in Washington, she said, haven't put pressure on her to conform with their agenda.

"My title is representative and I represent a Republican, conservative-leaning district," Hochul said. "I am free to look at every issue that comes before me and vote in the best way to represent my district."

In Washington, Hochul said, Republicans have shown a willingness to work with her. On the Homeland Security Committee, she was the only Democrat during the session to get unanimous bipartisan support for her amendments to bills. That included an amendment to ensure Transportation Security Administration uniforms are made in the United States and that unclaimed clothing from airport screenings are donated to homeless veterans.

Representing the people of WNY in Congress is an amazing honor, Hochul said.

"I come back to the district often because what occurs here is very much more meaningful and where the decisions we make effect lives directly," Hochul said.

Top Photo: File photo, Hochul at the parade in Bergen on Memorial Day this year.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Hochul applauds USDA for granting disaster to relief to WNY farmers

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, kathy hochul

Statement from Rep. Kathy Hochul:

“I was pleased the United States Department of Agriculture has agreed with our request to declare all seven counties of the 26th District disaster areas following this spring’s devastating frost, freezes, and unseasonably warm temperatures that dealt a considerable blow to agriculture in the region. Farmers in these counties are now eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency to help them recover. Western New York is home to more than 3,000 locally owned farms and produces more than $700 million in goods every year, and I encourage farmers in my district to contact their local FSA offices for more information on the available assistance to keep their businesses viable.”

Monday, May 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Hochul encourages USDA rural development attention on WNY

post by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, USDA

Press release:

Today, Congresswoman Kathy Hochul (NY-26) hosted a call with Dallas Tonsager, the under secretary for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture(USDA) to discuss major upcoming projects in rural communities across the 26th District. 

“It is vital that Western New York receive the support necessary to continue the agricultural and rural development that helps keep us healthy and competitive,” Hochul said. “USDA Rural Development recognizes the importance of investing in our region, and they see the assets of our rural communities. I spoke with Under Secretary Tonsager today to encourage further investments, such as the urgent need for rural broadband access for our small towns and farmers. I am confident the USDA will continue to direct resources into our local communities."

"This is an exciting time for rural America and USDA Rural Development is assisting communities across the country," said Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager. "We look forward to continuing our work with Congresswoman Hochul to create jobs and economic development for the people of Western New York."

Tonsager was appointed as under secretary for Rural Development and sworn into office in May of 2009. Tonsager has more than 35 years of agricultural, business, cooperative, and financial experience through his work as a farmer, businessman, and community, state and national leader.

Friday, May 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Photos: Kathy Hochul visits BHS, meets with art students, presents award

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, art, Batavia HS, education, kathy hochul, schools

Rep. Kathy Hochul was in Batavia today, making three stops, including one at Batavia High School, where she presented an award to Siena Pullinzi, winner of the annual NY-26 Congressional Art Competition.

Hochul noted that Siena beat out students from five other counties in the district.

Siena's artwork is to be displayed in the halls of the Capitol for the next year. She will also now have the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C., to participate in a ceremony for Congressional Art Competition winners.

While at the school, Hochul stopped by both art classes that were in session and stopped to talk with several students, noting their good work and encouraging them to continue on with art.

At one point she stopped and said, "I can just feel the creativity in this room."

Besides BHS, Hochul spoke at a luncheon at Terry Hills for Independent Living of Genesee Region and this afternoon will visit Arctic Refrigeration, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce’s 2011 Business of the Year.

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