State Sen. Robert Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, has dropped out of the race for New York's 27th Congressional District, a spokesperson for his office confirmed on Tuesday afternoon.
The spokesman said Ortt will instead concentrate on running for reelection to the 62nd State Senate seat he currently holds.
The spokesperson did not offer any explanation as to why Ortt was dropping out of the congressional race.
Ortt's withdrawal follows the endorsement by Republican leaders of State Sen. Chris Jacobs, R-Buffalo. It also came one day after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo officially proclaimed April 28 as the special election date. Democrats have unofficially picked former Grand Island Supervisor Nate McMurray as their candidate.
“I want to thank Rob for his hard work and dedication to the party and the people of Western New York," Jacobs said in a release issued Tuesday. "It has been an honor serving alongside him in the New York state Senate and he has always conducted himself with the highest degree of professionalism and has always been a true fighter for the needs of his constituents. I have no doubt he will continue to serve the people of Western New York with steadfast dedication and honor.”
Former representative Chris Collins vacated the 27th district seat at the end of September, right before pleading guilty to insider trading charges. Last month, Collins was sentenced to 26 months in federal prison.
The winner of the April 28 special election will complete the remainder of Collins' term of office, which expires at the end of this year.
One or both major parties will be in campaign mode again in June, when primary elections are slated to determine who's on the November 2020 ballot.
While McMurray does not appear to have any primary challengers, a battle is forming on the GOP side. Several hopefuls who didn't get the county party chairs' backing to run in the special election, including family law attorney Beth Parlato and Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, are gearing up to take their cases directly to the Republican electorate.