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Medal of Honor recipient Bellavia may meet with Trump on possible Congressional run

President Donald J. Trump presents the Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia Tuesday, June 25, 2019, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia may receive high-level advice this week on whether to run for the 27th Congressional District in 2020.

Three sources familiar with the situation said Monday that Bellavia was expected to discuss his future with President Trump while attending this week’s Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington.

The sources said they do not know what counsel or direction the president would offer, but noted they believe Trump will prove an important influence.

“He said, ‘I will do what the president wants me to do,’ ” one of the sources said of Bellavia, an Iraq War veteran.

Bellavia, an Orleans County resident, was unavailable for comment. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

But any presidential advice for Bellavia and his subsequent decision may go a long way in shaping the future of the Western New York seat, vacated Sept. 30 by Republican Chris Collins after pleading guilty to federal insider trading charges. Bellavia unsuccessfully challenged Collins in the 2012 GOP primary for the seat, and has since maintained a high local profile as a WBEN talk radio host.

Indeed, WBEN reported last week that Bellavia has made up his mind about a candidacy, but would remain silent until talks with party leaders. Others say further talks would also include the Pentagon and the president. Most observers label Bellavia the overwhelming favorite for the special election nomination should he choose to run.

But Bellavia, who received the nation’s highest military award from Trump in a White House ceremony in June, has never indicated official interest in the seat. But he has also never said he will not run.

Bellavia has insisted in recent months that before he could consider a congressional candidacy he must honor obligations to the Army as a result of receiving the medal. Others say he could pursue new opportunities in the private sector.

In the meantime, some county leaders are quietly indicating that Bellavia’s final decision would prove helpful, since they will name a candidate for a special election expected to be scheduled by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has hinted at an April 28 date.

Two county leaders said Monday they have not discussed the race with Bellavia in recent days.

State Sens. Christopher L. Jacobs of Buffalo and Robert G. Ortt of North Tonawanda have already declared for the seat, as has attorney Beth A. Parlato of Darien. Others exploring a run include Assemblyman Stephen Hawley of Genesee County and Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw Jr.

Democrat Nathan McMurray has also declared in the heavily Republican district.


© 2019 The Buffalo News