Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 1, 2008

CONGRESS: Lee kicks off campaign for 26th District

By Joyce Miles<br><a href="mailto:milesj@gnnewspaper.com">E-mail Joyce</a>

Christopher J. Lee kicked off his Republican campaign for Congress pledging he’d work to get tax-and-spend government out of Western New York’s way.

Lee, a business executive from Clarence, introduced himself briefly in five stops around the U.S. House 26th district, including a late afternoon visit to Main Street, Lockport, where he was flanked by family and a contingent of GOP figures from the city, town and county.

Lee, 44, said he’s aiming to replace retiring incumbent Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence, so he can give the Capitol the perspective of a small businessman from a region stunted by high taxes, hyper-regulation and the flight of native talent.

“For too long, we have heard about creating jobs, lowering taxes and eliminating needless regulation. Unfortunately, the results have not matched the rhetoric,” Lee said. “Western New Yorkers are demanding real reform, real change, real leadership and real solutions.”

Lee spent 20 years in management of information technology and high-tech companies, including Orchard Park-based International Motion Control, his family’s business until it was sold to ITT Corp. last year.

Among Western New York’s needs is a bigger supply of modern jobs. To get them, Lee said, taxes and red tape have to be reduced.

High tech as a career was attainable for Lee 20 years ago only because he left the area and went west, to California, he said. He returned home in the late 1990s, when the Lee family’s high-tech engineering and manufacturing company started to surge, and knew it was a rare opportunity.

“All of this government red tape has led to a brain drain of our youth, businesses leaving and a decline in our area,” Lee said. “We must fight for the jobs of today and the future because that’s how we will turn around Western New York.”

Lee currently is managing the Patrick P. Lee Foundation, newly formed in his father’s name, to promote awareness, education, prevention and research of cancer and mental illness in Western New York. He and his wife, Michele, have a young son.

Lee was the majority choice, but not the unanimous choice, of GOP county committee chairmen when they met this past Monday in Batavia to decide who the party apparatus is backing in the coming race. Niagara County GOP Chairman Henry Wojtaszek had supported Talking Phone Book executive Rick Lewis. On Wednesday, he said that was then and now he’s fully behind Lee.

“It’s the process we agreed to,” Wojtaszek said. “We’re working on making Chris Lee our next congressman.”

Lee’s campaign is being managed by Erie County GOP Committee Executive Director Nick Langworthy, who previously worked for Reynolds. Current Reynolds staffer Amy Moore also turned out to the Lockport kickoff.

Powers completes Demo sweep; Davis issues a dare

On the other side of the aisle, the Erie County Democratic Committee on Tuesday announced its endorsement of Jonathan Powers in the 26th district race.

The 30-year-old war veteran thus racked up all seven county Democratic committees’ pledges to carry his designating petitions to get on the ballot this summer.

Meanwhile, maverick Democrat John R. “Jack” Davis challenged all candidates for the seat to join him in pledging not to accept campaign contributions from “lobbyists, multinational corporations or political action committees.

“I know how to fight, but I want this fight to be clean,” Davis said in a news release. “I pledge not to accept campaign contributions from PACs or Washington lobbyists and I will take no special interest money.”

Davis, the Akron industrial business owner who largely self-financed two previous campaigns against Reynolds, already pledged he’d bring $3 million of his own money into the current race.

“We must avoid the conflict created between big donations and good public policy and reject any gifts or campaign contributions from the very people who have wrecked our economy,” Davis said.

Powers has been quick to point out the majority of money he’s raised, nearly $600,000 since early 2007, is from donors giving $50 or less. The former substitute teacher acknowledged earlier this month that he’d have to repay his campaign fund about $4,000, the sum he’d charged it to rent space in his Williamsville home from mid-2007 through January. The Federal Election Commission says it’s against the rules for a campaign to pay rent for space in a candidate’s home.

Also apparently headed into the Democratic primary is environmental attorney Alice Kryzan of Amherst.

Contact reporter Joyce Miles at 439-9222, ext. 6245.