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Dems endorse Kennedy for Congress

Sat, Jan 20th 2024 07:00 am

Staff Reports

Erie County Democrats, on Jan. 11, unanimously endorsed state Sen. Tim Kennedy for the 26th Congressional District seat soon to be vacated by Congressman Brian Higgins. The endorsement is for the June primary and November general election cycles. It will also guide Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner when nominating a candidate for the special election that will follow Higgins’ resignation, the Erie County Democratic Party said in a news release.

"I'm humbled and honored to receive the endorsement from the Erie County Democratic Party tonight,” Kennedy said. “I remain deeply committed to delivering for the people and the families of Western New York who believe in building a more vibrant, inclusive and prosperous future together."

"This campaign isn't about me – it's about the shared vision we have for our state and our nation, and the values we continue to uphold even in the face of radical attempts to dismantle our democracy. I thank Chairman Zellner and the entire Democratic Committee for joining me as I take my fight to Washington and prioritize the voices of our greater community."

Former Grand Island supervisor Nate McMurray, on Jan. 10, announced he’s also in the race for the 26th District Congressional seat. Although he didn’t receive the county endorsement, McMurray told the media that he has an optimistic outlook.

“I feel excited. There’s been so much positive feedback towards me and my campaign. ... People are reaching out to me,” McMurray said after the county Democrats announced that Kennedy was their pick. He criticized the selection process as "undemocratic."

“There’s no candidates’ night, there’s no debates. There’s a guy they chose, and that’s it. It’s over,” he said. “They believe that’s a democratic process, and I believe people should have a choice. So, I’m going to give them a choice."

McMurray confirmed he plans to run against Kennedy in the primary.

Zellner praised Kennedy as a strong leader.

“Over nearly 20 years, from the County Legislature to the State Senate, Tim Kennedy has been an outstanding leader devoted to serving and standing up for Western New York,” Zellner said.

“Whether bringing home millions for vital transportation projects, building a local workforce for the future, protecting children from domestic violence, ensuring the civil liberties of every New Yorker, or breaking down barriers between voters and the ballot, Sen. Kennedy is one of our region’s most effective voices in Albany.

“And he has been an invaluable partner in making the Erie County Democratic Party the strong and united organization it has become. We know he will continue to make us proud when he arrives in Washington, D.C., and that he will be a defender of our democracy at a time when it is threatened by Republican extremism.”

Higgins will step down in early February to become President of Shea’s Performing Arts Center. Gov. Kathy Hochul will then call for a special election that will occur between 70 and 80 days after Higgins’ departure. The regular federal primary is Tuesday, June 25, and the general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5.

The 26th District covers Buffalo, Amherst, Grand Island, Cheektowaga, the Tonawandas, and parts of West Seneca and Niagara County, including Niagara Falls.

Kennedy, 47, was appointed in 2004 to the County Legislature’s 2nd District seat, winning full terms in 2005 and 2007.

Elected to the State Senate in 2010, Kennedy represents the current 63rd District of the State Senate, which contains much of the City of Buffalo and all of Cheektowaga and Lackawanna.

After Democrats won the State Senate majority in 2018, Kennedy was named chair of the powerful Transportation Committee. He has pursued an ambitious infrastructure improvement agenda that includes a $100 million NFTA metro rail capital improvement plan, the press release said.

Kennedy has sponsored or backed legislation on a wide range of issues, from election and

criminal justice reforms to supporting record funding for New York’s public schools, defending a

woman’s right to choose, marriage equality, and combating gun violence.

Senior Contributing Writer Karen Carr Keefe contributed to this report.

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