Special Election Will Be Held in New York to Fill the Seat Left Open in Congress by the Resignation of Democrat Higgins

Special Election Will Be Held in New York to Fill the Seat Left Open in Congress by the Resignation of Democrat Higgins

BUFFALO, New York— In a special election Tuesday, people in upstate New York will choose between a Democrat who many see as the likely successor to the longtime congressman who left his seat earlier this year and a Republican who has crossover appeal.

Representative Brian Higgins, a Democrat, quit in February to become president of Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. He had been in Congress since 2005. The Republicans only hold a slim majority in the U.S. House, so even a race for a spot that most people think will stay Democratic has gotten a lot of attention.

Gary Dickson is the first Republican to be chosen as a town supervisor in West Seneca, a suburb of Buffalo, in 50 years. He is running against Democrat state Sen. Timothy Kennedy, who looks up to Higgins as a mentor.

The districts cover parts of Erie and Niagara counties, which are home to the towns of Buffalo and Niagara Falls. It is a safe seat for Democrats because there are more registered Democrats than Republicans by more than two to one.

Kennedy has been a state lawmaker since 2011. Like Higgins, he comes from a strong South Buffalo background. He said that Washington was “chaotic and dysfunctional,” and that he would focus on reproductive rights, immigration, and stronger gun laws like the ones that were passed in New York after the shooting at a Buffalo store in 2022.

“New York has stood strong against Donald Trump’s insane MAGA agenda that has taken over our politics and our nation’s capital,” he said. “The House of Representatives is a joke because of the MAGA nuts.”

When Kennedy joins the race, he has a huge financial edge. Campaign finance records show that the Democrat raised $1.7 million by April 10 and Dickson raised $35,430. Kennedy has spent a little more than $1 million on the off-season race, while Dickson has spent $21,000. Both candidates are trying to get people to the polls.

When Dickson, a retired FBI special agent, began his run at the end of February, he knew he had a long road ahead of him. He said he was running to give voters a choice. He said that he backs Trump as the Republican candidate for president and that his own political views are “more toward the center.”

Dickson said he would have supported for the $95 billion foreign package that Congress passed, which included aid for Ukraine. He said this because he worked for the FBI for five years at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. He said that Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, was a “vicious, brutal dictator.”

At the end of the campaign, he said, “If he is not stopped now, he will keep going.”

The GOP’s slim House majority was cut in half earlier this year in a closely fought special election on Long Island. The election happened after New York Republican George Santos was kicked out of Congress. People saw that race, which was won by Democrat Tom Suozzi, as a test of how the parties would handle immigrants and abortion in the general election.

Professor Jacob Neiheisel of political science at the University at Buffalo said that even a win for Democrats that was tighter than expected would show how people felt about the election. He said that a low showing could mean that people aren’t excited about the event.

“If Dickson can make the race closer than most people think it will be, Republicans will probably use this as proof that their party is running the show,” he said.

The election happens while Trump is on trial in New York City. It is the first time a past president has been charged with a crime, and it is the first of four trials that have reached a jury.

The person who wins the special poll on Tuesday will be in office for the whole year.

Kennedy is running for president in November, and in June, he will face off against Nate McMurray, a former town clerk and two-time candidate for Congress. Attorney Anthony Marecki is the only Republican who has turned in paperwork to run. Dickson did not sign up to run for office in the general election.

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