Duane Whitmer, the Libertarian nominee for Congress in New York’s 27th district, will be on the ballot in the special election scheduled for April 21, attorney James Ostrowski announced late last evening. The winner of that contest will fill the remaining eight months of the term vacated by Rep. Chris Collins, following his guilty plea on insider trading charges.
The winner of the Special Election will face challengers in the Primary Election on June 25. Democrats have nominated former Grand Island Supervisor Nate McMurray, a Vice President at Delaware North.
After Republican State Chairman Nick Langworthy and his wife, Erin Baker, were bribed by State Senator Chris Jacobs to deliver the party nomination to him, the conservative wing of the party was outraged. Jacobs hired Baker to serve as his ‘fundraising director’, presumably on a commission basis, shortly before soliciting more than $1 million — largely from friends and family.
Activists have been demanding that the Southern District of New York investigate Jacobs’ financial relationship with the Langworthys, given the local distrust surrounding the family’s hiring of the former US Attorney for the Western District William C. Hochul, the husband of Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, by the privately held firm owned by the Jacobs family. Critics have wondered aloud, why would Delaware North hire a career criminal prosecutor to serve as General Counsel of a concessionaire and casino operator?
The firm has long been criticized for taking liberties with its government contracts, whether at Yosemite National Park or Niagara Falls State Park. The firm’s profit motives have been known to drive substantial public initiatives.
Jacobs has not been supportive of the Second Amendment in the past, prompting a backlash against his candidacy among party footsoldiers — catapulting Whitmer’s insurgent candidacy.
Jacobs refused to endorse Donald Trump‘s presidential candidacy — and, until recently, key members of the family supported former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld’s ultimately hapless effort to primary President Trump this year. Jacobs was Weld’s running mate when he ran for Governor of New York in 2006, but Weld’s relationship with the family has been long and fruitful.
When Weld was Governor of Massachusetts, his administration built the Jacobs family a new hockey arena for the Boston Bruins, some say under suspect circumstances, largely at no cost to the team. The Jacobs family has owned the NHL team since 1975.
Now raising the ire of many of his constituents is Jacobs’ refusal to recuse himself from a key vote on S.4068 in 2017. That vote authorized the use of millions of dollars of State money to expand New York’s racetrack casinos — including those that his family owns. The vote followed a slew of suspect campaign contributions from executives at Delaware North and various campaign finance vehicles that the firm funds.
While the firm has operated horseracing tracks for generations, in 2011 the firm’s most senior executives conspired to defraud the Seneca Nation of Indians of the exclusive right to operate slot machines west of State Route 14, which they purchased in a 2002 gaming compact.
Those executives bribed Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was early in his first year in office, to allow the firm to operate slot machines within the Seneca Nation’s exclusivity zone, effectively defrauding the impoverished Tribe of more than $2 billion over the life of the agreement. That year, Delaware North poured millions of dollars into the Committee to Save New York, which spent heavily on television advertisements across Upstate and Western New York that lauded Cuomo’s policy agenda at the time.
Some suspect that Delaware North played a role in the assassination of Don Bolles, a journalist at the Arizona Republic who was investigating racketeering allegations against the firm’s horseracing operations in the 1970s.
Earlier this year Jacobs was encouraged to instead seek New York’s 26th congressional district seat, currently held by Rep. Brian Higgins, on the logic that his moderate-Republican views would be a better fit for that more urban district.