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Vice President Pence coming to town Oct. 17

National Public Radio

Vice President Mike Pence will be coming to Buffalo on October 17. He will be here to support local Republican incumbents and candiates.

Pence is scheduled to appear at a political fundraiser, expected to be a luncheon, for his fellow Republicans, including Clarence Congressman Chris Collins. Pence's visit seems to indicates the GOP's recognition that Collins' 27th District seat may be a target by Democrats in the 2018 election.

Collins was the first Congressman to support Trump in his presidential campaign last year. Although Collins has a campaign war chest of $1.1 million dollars as of June 30, a strong challenge would require an expensive campaign in both Buffalo and Rochester.

The first Democrat to announce her run against Collins has already dropped out of the race. Although 32-year-old Erin Cole of Lockport came with along resume of military and public service when she announced in July, she discontinued her challenge earlier this month.

Credit Frank Smierciak II
Republican Frank Smierciak II is the only current announced challenger to Republican Congressman Chris Collins.

"I believe it is time to replace partisan Rep. Chris Collins. Collins is currently facing an ethics investigation for alleged insider trading and he refuses to meet with us regarding our needs," Cole said on her Facebook page. "However, after exploring this race for the last two months, I have decided to end my campaign. I will support a strong Democratic challenge to Collins. This was not an easy decision and I cannot thank you enough for all of your support over the last few months." 

So, to date, Collins is only facing a challenge from a fellow Republican side. Political newcomer Frank Smierciak II handles medical payments for Optum, part of the UnitedHealth Group, and said he is running because of his disappointment with incumbents and promises a fresh approach. The 26-year-old graduated from the University at Buffalo with a bachelor and master's degrees in history and lives in Lancaster.

Mark Wozniak, WBFO's local All Things Considered host, has been at WBFO since mid-1978.
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