By Robert J. McCarthy
Democratic leaders in New York's 27th Congressional District are discussing a congressional candidacy with a Buffalo police officer and attorney who is contemplating a challenge to Republican Chris Collins of Clarence.
James O'Donnell, 28, of Orchard Park is emerging as the only serious candidate willing to wage the underdog campaign against Collins, according to Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner.
"I haven't talked to anyone else," Zellner said Tuesday. "But he seems very sincere and interested in helping the community."
O'Donnell was not available Tuesday afternoon. But Zellner said the University at Buffalo graduate (undergraduate and law school) attended a Genesee County Democratic event on Saturday and has been contacting the seven party leaders throughout the district.
The chairman acknowledged that while candidates "are not knocking down my doors" to run against the well-financed Collins in the state's most Republican congressional district, a decision on a Democratic candidate must be made soon, with March 4 being the date for beginning to circulate designating petitions. He also said any potential problems involving the candidacy of a police officer and the federal Hatch Act must still be investigated.