Birthdate: May 20, 1950
Birth Place: Schenectady , NY, United States
Residence: Clarence, NY
State: New York
District: District 27
Chris Collins was born in Schenectady, N.Y., and moved around the country with his family as his father was transferred by General Electric. He graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in mechanical engineering and received an MBA from the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
A millionaire businessman, Collins was elected to a four-year term as Erie County executive beginning in 2007. During the campaign, he promised to run the economically challenged western New York county like a business. It was his second attempt at public office after a failed 1998 attempt to unseat then-Rep. John LaFalce. He lost his 2011 bid for a second term as county executive.
Collins has been involved in Boy Scouts since childhood. He achieved the highest ranking, Eagle Scout, at 13 and is on the executive board of the Greater Niagara Frontier Council.
He and his wife, Mary, live in Clarence. They have two children. Collins has another daughter from a previous marriage.
Chris Collins is challenging Democratic Rep. Kathleen Hochul in the newly re-drawn 27th Congressional District in western New York, the most Republican district in the state.
After serving one four-year term as Erie County Executive, he failed to win re-election in 2011. Just before leaving office, he said he was through with politics, but within months had announced his campaign for Congress.
Collins held up his success in turning around distressed businesses, along with his experience as county executive, as his primary qualifications for Congress. He made clear he was running as much against President Barack Obama as Hochul, who was the upset winner of a special election in the district a year earlier. A "Stop Obama _ Vote Collins" sign hung from his podium at a June 2012 campaign event.
Like many Republicans, Collins took issue with Obama's statement that "the private sector is doing fine," telling The Buffalo News it was an "oh my God" moment. He also vowed to vote to repeal the 2010 health care reform law and criticized the administration's economic policies.
As county executive, Collins said, he reduced the county's debt by $120 million and reduced county employment by 22 percent, or 1,200 employees. He was criticized, though, as being unwilling to compromise and made a couple of verbal gaffes, one of which helped to derail a potential run for governor.
In 2010, Collins ended his exploratory run against Andrew Cuomo before the primary amid fundraising difficulties and criticism over his joke that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, an Orthodox Jew, was the third Antichrist, after Napoleon and Hitler. There was more unwelcome attention in 2010 after reports that he joked to a woman that she might find a seat during the State of the State address in exchange for a "lap dance."
Both comments resurfaced in July 2012, when another comment drew fire. Hochul took Collins to task for a published remark in which he said that "people now don't die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things." Collins accused Hochul of politicizing cancer.
Source: Associated Press