New York Republican David Bellavia has opened an exploratory committee for a third-party bid in the special election for an upstate House seat. Local GOP leaders considered nominating Bellavia but ultimately settled on another candidate over the weekend.
Bellavia, an Iraq war vet, filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday signaling his interest in seeking the western New York-based 26th District seat — a move that could ultimately threaten to split the Republican vote.
Republicans faced a similar scenario in a 2009 special election for an upstate New York House seat, when conservative voters backed Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman over Republican Dede Scozzafava. Scozzafava eventually withdrew from the race and endorsed now-Democratic Rep. Bill Owens.
Former GOP Rep. Chris Lee resigned the seat Feb. 9 after it was revealed that he had sent a suggestive photograph of himself to a woman who was not his wife.
“David passed another milestone on the road to the U.S. Congress by forming an exploratory committee and filing with the FEC,” Bellavia spokesman Bill Hagan told POLITICO in a statement.
New York Republicans tapped state Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, who on Wednesday formally launched her campaign. Some local tea party activists were incensed by the selection, accusing county chairmen tasked with selecting a nominee of moving too hastily and choosing an establishment favorite. Bellavia was one of more than a half dozen candidates who interviewed with the chairmen.
Hagan pointed to a survey Corwin filled out during her 2008 Assembly campaign in which she reportedly voiced support for first-trimester abortions.
“With the Republicans choosing a pro-abortion candidate, we now see a path to the New York State Conservative Party nomination — a party which was formed on core principles, including the defense of the life of the unborn,” said Hagan.
Bellavia plans to meet this week to meet with Conservative Party leaders to discuss a bid for the seat, though aides say he is also open to running on another ballot line. Corwin is also expected to vie for the Conservative Party nod.
Whether Bellavia would be able to win the Conservative Party nomination is uncertain. IConservative Party Chairman Mike Long told POLITICO earlier this week that Corwin has established a conservative record in the state legislature and pointed out that she ran on the party’s ballot line in 2008.
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to set a date for the special election.