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Rep. Chris Jacobs' drop out sets up potential primary in 23rd Congressional District

VESTAL, NY (WSKG) — Republicans may be headed for a primary in New York’s 23rd Congressional District after Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-27) was pressured to drop his bid.

Former real estate CEO and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino announced his bid for the seat Saturday. Meanwhile, the Buffalo News and other outlets report that New York Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy is also exploring a bid for the seat.

Jacobs dropped his bid Friday amid mounting pressure from party leaders after he said he would support legislation banning assault weapons in the wake of the Buffalo Top’s supermarket shooting.

Paladino filed paperwork with the FEC officially declaring his candidacy on Monday. He’s been endorsed by House Republican Conference Chairwoman and North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-21).

Paladino drew criticism after he made racist comments while a member of the Buffalo City School Board, saying that he’d like former first lady Michelle Obama “to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.”

Paladino was later removed from the school board.

This past weekend, Paladino republisheda conspiracy theory on his Facebook page suggesting that the recent shootings at the Top’s supermarket in Buffalo and an elementary school in Uvalde were “false flag” operations engineered to benefit Democrats. He initially denied sharing the post, but has since admitted he did.

Langworthy’s entry into the race could produce a contentious primary in the heavily Republican-leaning new 23rd District. The existing Southern Tier district had been represented by former Rep. Tom Reed for much of the last decade before he abruptly resigned last month.

The vacancy for the existing district is set to be filled at a special election taking place alongside congressional and state Senate primaries on Aug. 23. Steuben County GOP Chairman Joseph Sempolinksi is set to run against Tioga County Democratic Committee Chairman Max Della Pia to fill the remaining four months of the term. Della Pia also plans to run for a full term in the new district.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.