Education: North Carolina State U., B.S. 1972 (mechanical engineering); U. of Alabama, Birmingham, M.B.A. 1975
Career: Gear manufacturing business owner; private equity investor
Political highlights: Republican nominee for U.S. House, 1998; Erie County executive, 2007-11; defeated for re-election to Erie County executive, 2011
Chris Collins, R-N.Y. (27th District)
As Erie County executive, Collins had a sign in his office: "In God we trust - all others bring data." He plans to bring that sensibility, honed through three decades as a small-business entrepreneur, to Washington. With the public fed up with partisanship and gridlock, "sometimes you can get everyoneís head turned around by stopping negative discussions and focusing on data," he says.
Collins is batting .500 in elections. He first ran for Congress in 1998, taking 41 percent against Rep. John J. LaFalce in a district based in Buffalo and Niagara Falls. He won his next bid for office in 2007 to head one of New Yorkís largest counties, earning a speaking slot at the 2008 GOP convention, but was defeated for re-election last year.
Redistricting put Collinsí home in the stateís most conservative district, a rural area bordering Canada dominated by dairy farms and apple orchards, where he was able to beat freshman Kathy Hochul.
Collins has talked with GOP leaders about making a bid for the Energy and Commerce Committee, which currently has no New York Republicans. If that doesnít work out, heís looking at the Agriculture and Small Business panels.
His legislative priorities mirror his partyís: repealing the 2010 health care overhaul and designing an income tax system with a top rate of 25 percent. On behalf of his district, he plans to promote an immigration program to allow dairy farmers to control enough visas for workers to handle the size of their herds.
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