David Bellavia, a highly decorated Iraq war veteran, just sent out a note announcing his intention to run for the seat in New York's 26th Congressional District. In case you'd forgotten, this is the district vacated by Republican Chris Lee, who recently resigned after it was revealed that the married congressman was trolling for affairs on Craigslist.
As the co-founder of Vets for Freedom, Bellavia's been a stalwart advocate of conservative policies and his organization has spent millions helping elect Republicans. But the most interesting part of the note announcing his candidacy is the part where Bellavia discusses how he stood aside in 2008 at the behest of New York GOP bosses in order to let Lee have the GOP nomination:
In 2008, when I ran for this same nomination against the eventual Congressman, Chris Lee, I was faced with a golden opportunity. The Democrat front-runner was also a veteran, and we had the chance to truly bring the hard fought success of the Iraq War front and center into the national dialogue.
When Chris and I became the last two in Republicans in contention, I met with leaders of our Party and former Congressman Tom Reynolds. Together we decided what was best for the Party would be best for the district. It was "not my time" and I decided to bow out of a costly and bitter primary to allow Chris Lee a clear sail into the House of Representatives.
I not only stepped aside, I did something no other primary candidate did for Chris Lee or our Party: I actively supported him.
In fact, I doubled down on Chris Lee. Vets for Freedom endorsed him; I endorsed him on behalf of pro-victory combat veterans. I campaigned across the district for Chris, speaking at veteran organizations all over the region. We spent money on radio advertisements and brought in other veterans to help support his campaign.
Bellavia goes on to note that the Empire State party bosses have a terrible track record with candidates, and this time he's going to stand and fight:
Too often, scandalized Western New York politicians have been in the national news. Eric Massa tickled his way onto Jay Leno and David Letterman; Chris Lee's shirtless photograph is memorialized on the Internet and will never disappear from our area's public record.
Time and time again, wealthy candidates who offer nothing more than the ability to self-fund are embarrassing us. Few of them have accomplished much of anything on their own. Some ascend in the ranks floating on piles of their father's money, not their own.
Sure, they can pay the bills and maybe they get elected. But with no sense of Duty, no sense of Honor, no sense of Country, they often have no moral compass. And they implode.
As your Congressman, I will work to restore the honor and dignity to the office that was squandered by one of those candidates.
Today, this group is interviewing several candidates and the clear favorites are again millionaires who can buy the seat. The same is true for the Democrats - they'll find their own wealthy candidate. I can't help but think to myself: Here we go again.
I believe the voters outside these closed doors are thinking the same thing: Here we go again.
I am offering this important panel a candidacy that is a complete departure from this proven model of embarrassment.
The mistakes of 2008 were corrected in 2010, when decorated veterans were elected across the country. LTC Allen West, regarded in 2008 as not good enough for the Republican mainstream, is one of the most popular freshmen in Congress and was the keynote speaker at CPAC this month. And there are many more.
These recent election victories are all proof the electorate responds enthusiastically to genuine war heroes. I submit to you this candidate profile would be especially effective after the embarrassing melt down that our party has suffered in Chris Lee.
Good for Bellavia. New York Republicans deserve a real choice, not just whoever the establishment is serving up on a platter.