Rep. Chris Collins continued his attacks on state Sen. Chris Jacobs Tuesday, calling his first primary challenger of 2020 a "Never-Trumper" and a political opportunist.
Last week, Jacobs, a Republican state senator elected in 2016, announced that he is launching a primary challenge against Collins, who has not announced whether he will seek reelection. First, Collins will stand trial, scheduled for next February, on federal charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI.
Jacobs said voters of the New York 27th Congressional District deserve a representative who can "fully serve," pointing out that Collins has been barred from serving on committees during this session of Congress, because of his pending criminal case.
Collins is accused of disseminating inside stock tips on an Australian biotechnology company to his son and another man in June 2017, allowing them to avoid over $700,000 in loses. He has pleaded not guilty and maintained his innocence.
"Given Chris Collins’ indictment and his removal from committee assignments, he’s not able to fully exercise all that a congressman should have at his disposal," Jacobs said in a statement.
Collins quickly shot back, highlighting Jacobs' support for left-leaning positions, such as abortion rights, and labeling Jacobs a "Never-Trumper."
In a campaign statement issued Tuesday, Collins leaned into the latter criticism, suggesting Jacobs would only support Trump "when it makes sense politically."
"With the radical Left laser-focused on resistance and obstruction, President Trump needs allies in Congress now more than ever," Collins said in the statement. "Chris Jacobs may act like he’s that type of ally – but in reality, he’s a Never-Trumper who will say and do anything to get elected to his next office."
Collins also pointed out he was the first member of Congress to endorse then-candidate Trump, while Jacobs declined to support Trump in at least one interview during the 2016 race.
That year, Jacobs won the 60th Senate district, which includes parts of Buffalo, Tonawanda, Grand Island, and several Southtowns, despite Democrats outnumbering Republicans in the district.
"We may not know who Jacobs voted for in 2016, but we do know he refused to support President Trump in 2016 when he was running for office in a Democrat district," Collins said in the statement.
But Jacobs has recently affirmed his support for the president, arguing that he would be a more effective ally in the House.
"I voted for the president, I support his agenda and I’m running for Congress because the president needs somebody in the 27th congressional district who can win this seat in 2020 and help move his agenda in Congress," Jacobs said in a statement.