When president-elect Donald Trump launched his campaign in 2015, he did not find rousing support from Congress.
He did garner the support of Republican Congressman Chris Collins, who represents New York’s 27th district and who hails from Schenectady.
Collins is now part of the president-elect’s transition team, acting as the team’s congressional liaison. During Trump’s campaign, Collins also co-chaired Trump’s U.S. House Leadership Committee.
Collins spent his earliest days in Schenectady. His father, Gerald, was working for General Electric here when Collins was born, in 1950.
Though he isn’t sure whether he lived on what most locals would consider the GE plot, Collins said he does have a few memories of the area.
“There were several childhood memories during my time in Schenectady that I still recall,” Collins said. “Mainly, we lived in a cul-de-sac, and back then, everyone shared everything. It was a very tight-knit community. So, I remember we didn’t have a TV at our house. But our neighbors did, and I would frequently go over there to watch their TV.”
In 1955, his father was transferred to another GE location, so Collins never had the chance to go to school here.
Throughout his childhood, the family moved several times, depending on where GE needed his father to be stationed.
Like his father, Collins became involved with an engineering company. In 1983, he purchased Nuttall Gear Corp., which manufactures a variety of gear solutions in Niagara Falls.
He sold that business in 1997 but remained a businessman in the Buffalo area, buying and selling a few other technology/engineering companies, including Bloch Industries, Easom Automation, Volland Electric and Mead Supply, among others.
Collins’ first attempt at entering the political realm proved unsuccessful; he lost a race for congressional office in 1998.
But in 2007, he was elected Erie County Executive. Collins then launched a second campaign for congress in 2012, in which he was elected to lead the 27th District (it includes 105 towns in Western New York and across the Finger Lakes). He was re-elected in 2014.
Collins is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, for which he serves on three subcommittees: Health Subcommittee, Communications and Technology Subcommittee, and the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.
According to his website, his core values include smaller government, local decisionmaking and fiscal discipline.
Collins is hoping his early loyalty to Trump’s campaign, his business experience and his values will earn him a spot as the secretary of commerce in the president-elect’s cabinet, according to Buffalo News.
The congressman recently garnered national attention with his position on the transition team, alongside figures like Steve Bannon (former Breitbart News Executive and now Trump’s chief strategist) and Donald Trump Jr.
With that national attention comes national scrutiny.
In an interview last week with CNN, Collins was asked about Trump’s infamous Twitter habits.
“Well, I can tell you this: The pressure that has got to be on President-elect Trump is immense - the enormity of the job ahead of him - and so I would have to say, if this is his way of relaxing, God bless him,” Collins said.
Reach Gazette reporter Indiana Nash at 417-9362, [email protected] or @indijnash on Twitter.