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By Sarah May on
 February 26, 2024

NY GOP taps candidate in special election battle for Brian Higgins' former House seat

With an April 30 special election set for the purpose of filling the New York House seat vacated by Democrat Brian Higgins earlier this year, Republicans in the state have chosen West Seneca Supervisor Gary Dickson to run against state Sen. Tim Kennedy, as Politico reports.

The candidate who prevails in the upcoming contest will complete the remainder of Higgins' term, and though the Democrat is currently perceived to have an edge in the race, turnout for such an election can prove unpredictable and lead to unexpected outcomes.

Dickson tapped to run

The electoral headwinds Dickson may be facing have not gone unacknowledged by state Republican leadership, but confidence in the candidate's appeal remains high.

Erie County GOP chair Michael Kracker stated, “We certainly all recognize that this is a difficult seat” and noted that the 26th Congressional District slot is the “bluest seat outside of New York City.”

Even so, Kracker added, the Republican standard-bearer for the special election “has proven that he can win in blue territory with a message of delivering for taxpayers.”

In support of that assertion, supporters note that Dickson was the first elected Republican supervisor in West Seneca in roughly 50 years when he first ascended to the role back in 2019, later going on to secure a second term with close to 60% of the vote.

Kennedy clears the field

Higgins' departure spurred predictions of a crowded field of Democrats eager to replace him, but it was not long before Kennedy, a state senator for more than a decade, began eliminating his competition for the party's nod.

Kennedy soon secured the support of other top contenders for the spot and quickly became the Democrats' choice to run for the vacant congressional seat.

Though Kennedy has amassed a substantial war chest for his campaign, it is worth noting that there have also been rumblings from former Grand Island supervisor Nate McMurray that he may launch an independent run, not just for the upcoming special election, but also as a potential Democratic primary challenger this November.

Big shoes to fill

Regardless of who emerges the victor in April, he will have fairly large legislative shoes to fill, given that Higgins spent 19 years representing the district and built a loyal constituency that was sad to see him go, as The Hill noted when he announced his impending departure from Congress late last year.

In declaring his intentions, Higgins cited growing frustrations with the inner workings of the House of Representatives as his main reason for retiring from the role.

“I've always been a little impatient, and that trait has helped us deliver remarkable progress for this community. But the pace in Washington, D.C. can be slow and frustrating, especially this year,” he stated.

Higgins lamented, as the Associated Press noted, “We're spending more time doing less. And the American people aren't being served.”

Given the deluge of recent high-profile retirement announcements from both sides of the political aisle, Higgins is clearly not the only one who feels that way.

Written By:
Sarah May

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