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Party leaders to meet again on Collins replacement, as time ticks down to election

The saga of the race to replace Rep. Chris Collins (R-Clarence) on the November ballot is continuing, with time running short.

It is very difficult to replace a candidate on the ballot, as the case of New York State Assemblymember Bill Nojay showed two years ago. He committed suicide, stayed on the ballot and won.

Collins has suspended his campaign, in the wake of his indictment for insider trading. Republican leaders across the eight counties of the district meet Tuesday to interview an unclear number of candidates, complicated by the possibility of choosing a candidate who has to be removed from another ballot line to run for Congress.

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw is campaigning, saying he is not on the ballot already.

"The response has been wonderful. I've worked incredibly hard. I called every town and county chair in the district, wrote them letters by hand and the response has been phenomenal," he said. "We have to make sure that we keep this seat red. I'm very fortunate that a majority of the counties are in the Buffalo television market, so they know my history of being a fighter for taxpayers as an investigative journalist and as Erie County comptroller."

Mychajliw has been crossing the district in the counties outside of the Buffalo media market.

Republican, Conservative and Independence parties leaders cannot formally make a decision until Sept. 19, making for a really short campaign if they get Collins off the ballot.

"That vacancy would have to occur on or before Sept. 19," said Erie County Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr, "and any certificate of nomination, even if a vacancy were to occur today, would not be able to be filled until the primary election, and it's within a period of seven days after the primary election for any vacancy that occurs prior to the primary."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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