At an Embassy Suites Hotel in Buffalo, 50 people milled around two television screens watching the election results. Amidst cheers and yelps at the crowded Erie County Republican Committee viewing party, Rep. Chris Collins learned he had been re-elected on Tuesday night for a third term in the House of Representatives for the 27th district in New York State. Collins was the first representative to endorse Donald Trump for president. In this election, the Republican party is on track to keep control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Collins predicts a Trump win will make little day-to-day difference in his job.
“From a legislative standpoint, there won’t be any change,” Collins said. “Hopefully we will have President Trump, where now we can work together. Drive down the same highway if you will.”
When asked about how the party would have to change after a Trump loss, Collins dismissed the idea.
“Well, it doesn’t look like we’ll have a Trump loss,” he retorted.
Surrounded by family on stage at the viewing party, the State Senator for New York, Patrick Gallivan was also re-elected for a fourth term, in the 59th District, on Tuesday night. Gallivan is a former police chief in Erie County. For him, the way the party changes depends on how the party fares in the election.
“If we win… what the national party needs to do is look at this, and say, ‘This is an awakening.’ We had somebody completely outside of the mainstream that tapped into something that the average citizen cared about,” Gallivan said.
Gallivan believes that regardless of win or lose, the party must focus on a core tenet.
“In order for the national party to be successful… they need to be more inclusive and get people who listen to citizens and try to properly represent them instead of taking care of themselves,” he said.
Away from the viewing party, Buffalo resident Debbie Happo predicted that the Republican party will have to change after this election. Happo, a nurse, cast her vote at a firehouse at 5th Avenue and Sandusky Street on Tuesday night. For her, a Republican win means change in the party’s structure.
“I think they’re going to have to restructure everything. I think they’re embarrassed he [Trump] won the nomination,” said Happo, who revealed that she voted for Hillary Clinton.
Happo believes that voters should pick the person they feel, “is better for the job”, not the person that appeals to them most. In the case of a Republican loss, Happo believes the party will change.
“I hope they move more to the left. I can’t say they’re going to, but I hope they do,” Happo said.