Four years ago Chris Collins was the dark horse, the new face in the mix of a hotly contested race for Erie County Executive. Collins stood back while Jim Keane and Paul Clark bloodied themselves in the Democratic primary and then emerged victorious on the mantra of “run Erie County as a business”. However, since Collins became County Executive he has become the most political figure in that seat in decades.
Chris Collins is the number one Republican in Erie County and now controls the Republican Party. His main operative is his chief of staff Chris Grant, who claimed he took a leave of absence from his position in the County to run Jane Corwin’s campaign.
Chris Grant is the architect of the now ill-fated video ambush of Jack Davis. Grant has allowed Corwin’s chief of staff Michael Mallia and Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy to take the heat for the incident, but it was one in a long line of Grant’s “dirty tricks”. Another is the foolish commercial that was panned in Tuesday’s Buffalo News http://www.buffalonews.com/city/politics/article424928.ece.
Grant was an eager, baby-faced kid during Collins run for County Executive. However, since he was named Chief of Staff in 2008 he has become a mean spirited political operative peering down from the 16th floor of the Rath Building. Grant is certainly no dope, but like Collins, a string of early party victories has gone to his head. Should Corwin lose the race for what should have been a slam dunk win for a Republican in that congressional district then Grant will wear the defeat and he will no longer be the main player in Collins re-election bid.
A Corwin defeat will be extremely embarrassing to the Republican Party at a local, state and national level. No one thought the seat once held by the powerful Tom Reynolds and then squandered away by cell-phone photo eye candy Chris Lee could be held by a Democrat.
It has become obvious that the video Grant asked Mallia to take of Jack Davis and then placed on the Republican Party YouTube page has become a giant gaff. Worse yet, Corwin looks inexperienced and out of the loop in her weak attempts at defending it. Then the fact Langworthy has been caught lying about the video length and second camera has weakened his office as well.
Word is former Republican Party boss Bob Davis is seething over the mismanagement of the race by Grant although he has been publically critical of the tactic without mentioning Grant by name. Davis has met with other Republican power brokers to see what can be down about Grant and Langworthy without positioning Collins in a tough spot.
Collins has been the 800 lb. gorilla and not easy to work with for members of the party. His alliance with Palladino during the Governor's race helped him locally, but now Carl is toxic and has become somewhat of a worn penny. Plus Carl stiffing staffers on their expected salaries after his defeat has not made him a party favorite.
Chris Collins is currently keeping the door shut on a slew of personal mishaps, but that will be tough to do in a race against Poloncarz. For example; a few months back Collins was pulled over late one night in Clarence after a few too many wines. The Sheriff Deputy let him go and then two weeks later the son of the Deputy was surprisingly hired in the County Highway department. Poloncarz and others know of the hire and the circumstances surrounding it and look for it to emerge in a big way during the fall election.
Collins, Grant and others in his administration have also been caught exchanging e-mails of a sexual nature about female staffers. They have managed to keep those private, but again Poloncarz has friends in the Rath Building who have gained access to those e-mails and they will be revealed at a later date.
Hubris is always the enemy of the victorious and Grant and Collins have it by the bucket full. It will prove to be their downfall like Giambra and Gorski before them.