ENG: Christopher C. Collins is the U.S Representative for New York's 27th congressional district. Previously, he was the County Executive of Erie County, New York. He is a resident of Clarence, New York.
Early life, education, and business career
Born in Schenectady, New York, in 1950, Collins moved around the country with his family as his father was transferred several times by General Electric. Collins graduated from Hendersonville High School (Hendersonville, North Carolina), in 1968. He received a BSME from North Carolina State University in 1972 and an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in 1975.
Collins spent 35 years in the business world.
As an entrepreneur he was the founder, President & CEO of Nuttall Gear Corporation located in Niagara Falls, New York. Nuttall Gear was a 1983 leveraged buyout of the Westinghouse Electric Gear Division located in Buffalo, New York. Collins sold Nuttall in 1997 to a large industrial conglomerate.
After losing a race for Congress in 1998, Collins stepped up his entrepreneurial career purchasing or investing in over 20 bankrupt and financially troubled companies. These companies were combined into several platform companies - Bloch Industries LLC, ZeptoMetrix Corporation, Volland Electric Equipment Corporation, Easom Automation Systems, Inc., Audubon Machinery Corporation, Niagara Ceramics Corporation, Buckler Biodefense Corporation, and Innate ImmunoTherapeutics, Ltd.
1998 congressional election
U.S. Congressman Bill Paxon (R-NY) convinced Collins to get into politics and challenge Collins 24-year incumbent Democrat U.S.
Congressman John J. LaFalce in New York's 29th congressional district. During the campaign, Collins was one of the first congressional candidates to call for President Bill Clinton's resignation in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. LaFalce touted his own record of bringing home the bacon. LaFalce won re-election 58%-41%.
Erie County Executive
Collins ran for Erie County Executive in 2007, labeling himself as an independent businessman, rather than a Republican.
He ran on the ideas of smaller county government, fewer taxes, and Six Sigma. His campaign slogan was "Elect a Chief Executive, not a Chief Politician." Collins defeated Democrat James P. Keane (Deputy County Executive of the Dennis Gorski administration) in a 64%-34% landslide.
On November 8, 2011, Collins lost re-election. He was defeated by Democrat Mark Poloncarz. In a county with 140,000 more Democrats than Republicans, Collins won 39 of the 44 municipalities.
Poloncarz won 5 municipalities, most importantly the City of Buffalo, 81%-19%.
Collins spoke at the 2008 Republican National Convention on September 3, 2008. He was the only County Executive in the country given the opportunity to speak at the RNC.
When Collins became the County Executive, he inherited a nearly bankrupt county that had state-imposed fiscal control with a budget of $1.2 billion. He said “Erie County was effectively bankrupt, and I was now known as a fix-it guy.”
In October 2009, Collins compared Sheldon Silver, the Jewish speaker of the New York State Assembly, with Adolf Hitler and the anti-Christ. Collins apologized for his comments.
In January 2010, several Republican colleagues of Collins said that at a crowded gubernatorial address, Collins told a woman that "I'm sure if you offer someone a lap dance you can find a place to sit."
Collins made national news due to an interview published in The Batavian on June 24, 2012, in which he said: "People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things. The fact of the matter is, our healthcare today is so much better, we’re living so much longer, because of innovations in drug development, surgical procedures, stents, implantable cardiac defibrillators, neural stimulators -- they didn’t exist 10 years ago." In response, The Huffington Post wrote, "An estimated 577,190 people in the United States will die from cancer this year, including about 39,920 deaths from breast cancer and 28,170 from prostate cancer," citing data from the American Cancer Society.
ArtVoice wrote, "The implantable cardiac defibrillator and neural stimulators, or TENS devices, were both invented and patented in the late 60s or early 70s; therefore, they existed '10 years ago'."
After the national media picked up the story, Batavian publisher Howard Owens defended Collins: "On its face, the opening part of the quote from Collins sounds outrageous, but in context, clearly Collins misspoke. More likely, he meant to say: ‘Fewer people die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things.’"
2012 congressional election
On March 25, 2012, Collins announced he was running for Congress in the newly drawn 27th Congressional District of New York. On June 26, 2012 Collins defeated Iraq War veteran David Bellavia 60%-40%. Collins had the Republican and Conservative party lines for the November general election. Collins defeated incumbent Democratic U.S. Congresswoman and former Erie County County Clerk Kathy Hochul 50.8%-49.2%, a difference of 4,312 votes.