First congressman to endorse Trump gets challenge from Gulf War vet in deep red district


The first congressman to endorse Trump for president now faces a strong Democratic opponent who has fought for jobs and freedom.

New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins is one of Congress' most loyal and sycophantic supporters of Donald Trump and the right-wing agenda.

The first congressman to endorse Trump for president, Collins has drawn fire for some recent statements.

He said it was "useless" to meet with his constituents, asked a reporter on air to explain the health care repeal bill he had just voted for, and blamed Democrats for the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

He is also facing an ethics investigation for insider trading related to an Australian biotech company.

His district, New York's 27th, which includes Buffalo and some suburbs of Rochester, has been heavily Republican ever since the 2010 census cut the number of districts in the western, rural part of the state.

But this time, Collins is facing a real Democratic challenger.

Erin Cole is an Army veteran from Lockport, who has also worked in U.S. embassies in Russia and Central Asia. A survivor of Gulf War Syndrome, she is passionately committed military health care.

She served as a senior vice president at Global NY, a venture that has brought foreign capital into New York and Washington and created local jobs.

Cole told WKBW that it is that "first-hand experience" which makes her the best candidate for the job.

She spoke about "working with numerous — and I mean, literally hundreds, between western New York and the Finger Lakes — hundreds of manufacturing companies" on issues of trade and investments to keep jobs in her community.

And in a statement to the Buffalo News, Cole laid bare Collins's failure to serve his constituents:

President Trump himself vowed that he was going to drain the swamp in Washington, and ironically, his number one supporter — Chris Collins — is the epitome of an unethical self-promoter who has literally accomplished nothing for the people of the 27th District, the very people he's supposed to represent.

The people of Western New York deserve better than Collins — a right-wing ideologue with dubious ethics and a stated lack of interest in his own constituents. They now have a chance to elect a woman who has traveled the world to defend their freedom and worked for years to bring jobs to their local economy.