Chris Collins, Potential Andrew Cuomo Opponent, Defeated In Reelection Bid

A potential Republican challenger to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in the 2014 gubernatorial race was defeated in his reelection for county executive in Western New York on Tuesday.

Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz (D) defeated incumbent Erie County Executive Chris Collins (R) 53 percent to 47 percent, according to election returns from the Erie County Board of Elections. Collins, a former business executive and 1998 congressional candidate, was seeking his second term as head of the county that includes Buffalo.

Collins had been considered a potential 2014 opponent to Cuomo and considered a bid for governor in 2010. Collins decided against the 2010 campaign saying he wanted to continue as county executive and he could not raise the necessary funds. That decision came after a series of articles in which he was reported to have compared State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D), an Orthodox Jew, to Hitler and the anti-Christ.

Collins was known during his term for a business-like approach and using the Six Sigma program within county government. He came into office following the county's near bankruptcy and his 63 percent win in 2007 was considered an upset following voter backlash against his Republican predecessor, Joel Giambra.

Poloncarz entered the county executive's race in the middle of his second term as county comptroller. He was considered the second-choice Democrat, after Kathy Hochul. Hochul decided against the county executive's race to make a successful bid for Congress in a May special election to succeed former Rep. Chris Lee (R). In the congressional race, Hochul defeated Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (R), a close Collins ally.

The race was marked by a late-October investigation into absentee ballots being mailed after being pre-marked for Collins. After an investigation into a county elections board worker with ties to county Democrats, charges have not been brought by the county sheriff.

In the race to succeed Hochul as the Erie County clerk, former New York Secretary of State Chris Jacobs (R) maintains a slight lead over Erie County Legislature Majority Leader Maria Whyte (D). Jacobs, a Buffalo Board of Education member, had briefly sought the state's lieutenant governorship in 2006 on a ticker with former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld (R).

The Erie County results also showed that scandal-tarred former Assemblyman Mike Cole (R) was defeated in his comeback attempt. Cole lost a race for the Erie County legislature to Terrence McCracken (D) in a rural Erie County seat. Cole was censured by the Assembly in 2007 after he admitted to spending the night on an intern's bedroom floor after drinking too much. Cole also lost his post as the top Republican on the alcoholism and drug abuse committee. Cole was defeated in his 2008 Assembly reelection bid by Corwin.