Sen. Charles E. Schumer is targeting football fans in his latest re-election pitch — but he doesn’t need to throw a Hail Mary.
The New York Democrat is expected to cruise to victory against Republican opponent Wendy Long this November. But he is still campaigning and has a new ad highlighting his push to keep the Buffalo Bills football team in Western New York.
The Bills’ future in Buffalo was called into question after longtime owner Ralph Wilson died in 2014. Though Bon Jovi and Donald Trump expressed interest in the team, Terry Pegula, who also owns Buffalo’s professional hockey team, bought the Bills several months later. Pegula’s deal ensured that the team would stay in its home city.
Schumer’s ad highlights his role in keeping the team in Buffalo. It features former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly saying Schumer is his favorite Buffalo Bill.
“When it looked like the Bills were going to leave, Chuck Schumer made sure that didn’t happen,” Kelly says in the ad. “He helped find a new owner and he worked with the NFL to help keep the team in Buffalo.”
Kelly led the Bills to four straight Super Bowl championships in the early 1990s, though the team did not win any of them. Despite the heartbreaking losses, the Bills remain a central part of Buffalo.
The ad cites a Buffalo News article that described how Schumer worked behind the scenes to keep the Bills in town. The Bills are also the only NFL team to actually house its stadium in New York state (the New York Jets and the New York Giants both have stadiums in New Jersey).
Schumer’s campaign spokesman said the ad is running in upstate New York, but declined to comment on the size of the ad buy.
Though Schumer is very likely to win his race, Western New York has many Republican strongholds. Rep. Chris Collins, the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump, is from the area. And businessman Carl Paladino, who co-chaired Trump’s New York campaign and has endorsed Long, is also from Buffalo.
But Schumer is the favorite to win in November. A Sienna College poll from the mid-September found Schumer besting Long by 46 points, 69 to 23 percent. The Rothenberg & Gonzalez Political Report/Roll Call rates the race as Safe Democrat.
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.