Former senior White House adviser Steve Bannon told supporters in an embattled New York congressman’s district Wednesday that the midterm congressional races represent ‘a proxy vote’ on President Donald Trump.
A few hundred supporters and two dozen protesters turned out for the ‘Red Tide Rising Rally’ in Rep. Chris Collins’ western New York district. It was the latest of several appearances the former Trump strategist has been making on behalf of candidates ahead of the Nov. 6 elections.
‘This is Donald Trump’s first re-elect,’ Bannon said.
Collins is seeking a fourth term while awaiting trial on federal insider trading charges. He’s pleaded not guilty and calls the charges meritless.
Collins was not at the rally, which organizers said was meant to get out the vote for all of the region’s Republican candidates.
‘Every congressional race in this country is a proxy vote. Just like (Brett) Kavanaugh was a proxy vote,’ Bannon told the crowd, referring to Trump’s latest pick for the U.S. Supreme Court. ‘It’s a proxy vote on Trump.’
Bannon’s appearance at the Elma fire station drew promises of boycotts of the rural hall, which is rented out for events, volunteer firefighter Mike Nolan said. A second Bannon event, a planned fundraiser for Republican Assemblyman David DiPietro, was cancelled amid threats to the historic inn where it was to have taken place, he said.
‘We are at war in this country,’ said rally organizer Michael Caputo, who worked on Trump’s campaign.
‘Donald Trump is on the ballot,’ Caputo told the crowd. ‘If we do not get out all the vote… and we lose the House of Representatives, the Trump administration is finished, do you understand? It is all over if we lose the House of Representatives and suddenly New York 27 is up for grabs. It shouldn’t be but it is.’
Collins’ 27th Congressional District is the most conservative in New York state and gave Trump a wide margin of victory in 2016.
But a Siena College/Spectrum News poll released Oct. 16 showed his race well within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points, with 46 percent supporting Collins and 43 percent supporting Democratic challenger Nate McMurray, the Grand Island town supervisor.
‘It’s disappointing but I do like Chris and so I will support him,’ financial adviser David Mariacher, who described himself as an avid Trump supporter, said while waiting for the rally in his hometown to start. ‘Hopefully, he will learn from his mistake and get past it.’
Retired teacher Sue Sudlik, a Republican, said she will support Collins to keep the seat Republican, worried the country is ‘giving away the farm’ and unnerved by the caravan of Central Americans walking toward the Mexico-U.S. border.
‘You can only take care of so many people,’ she said.