From BuffaloNews.com, “Davis’ comments shock GOP leaders” by Jerry Zremski, New Washington Bureau Chief, 15 Mar 2011.
[BUFFALO, NY] Congressional candidate Jack Davis shocked local Republican leaders in a recent interview when he suggested that Latino farmworkers be deported — and that African-Americans from the inner city be bused to farm country to pick the crops.
Several sources who were in the Feb. 20 endorsement interview with Davis confirmed his comments, which echo those he made to the Tonawanda News in 2008, when he said: “We have a huge unemployment problem with black youth in our cities. Put them on buses, take them out there [to the farms] and pay them a decent wage; they will work.”
When Davis repeated those sentiments in the recent interview, the Republican leaders — who later delivered the party endorsement for the vacant seat in the 26th Congressional District to Assemblywoman Jane L. Corwin of Clarence — said they couldn’t believe what they were hearing.
“I was thunderstruck,” said Amherst GOP Chairman Marshall Wood. “Maybe in 1860 that might have been seen by some as an appropriate comment, but not now.”
Davis spokesman W. Curtis Ellis acknowledged that Davis’ comments “may not be politically correct and … may not be racially correct.”
The revelations about Davis highlighted a busy Monday in the race to replace Rep. Chris Lee, an Amherst Republican who resigned last month after getting caught in an Internet flirtation with a woman who wasn’t his wife.
The state Independence and Conservative parties endorsed Corwin on Monday, and local tea party activists held a candidate forum at Brennan’s Bowery Pub in Clarence featuring Davis, Iraq War veteran David Bellavia, of Batavia, and Amherst Council Member Mark A. Manna, a Democrat.
When asked before the event about the comments he made, Davis replied: “It’s politics.” He did not address the remarks when he spoke to those assembled at the event.
During the Feb. 20 endorsement interview with the district’s Republican leaders, Davis “repeatedly almost disqualified himself” by contradicting typical party positions, said Gordon Brown, the Wyoming County GOP chairman.
Davis, an Akron industrialist, ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2004, 2006 and 2008, and was seeking the GOP nod this time.
Spurned by the party, he is now collecting signatures in hopes of appearing as the Tea Party candidate in the May 24 special election.
Through his campaigns, Davis has struck a populist bent, raging against the impact free trade has had on local manufacturing and the effect illegal immigration has had on the country. Sources said he repeated those sentiments in the February meeting with GOP leaders.
“The most racist part was where he said he was busing the blacks in to pick the vegetables,” Brown said.
Davis’ comment came in response to a question about immigration, a major issue in the rural parts of the 26th District, where many farmers rely on migrant workers — who are supposed to be on a temporary work visa — to pick the crops.
When Davis made his comment, “the room sort of went silent,” Brown said. “It was like: Did I just hear that?”
Still, Ellis defended Davis’ comments.
“It may not be politically correct and it may not be racially correct, but when you have African American people in Buffalo who do not have jobs and are out of work, why are you bringing people into this country illegally to take jobs?” Ellis asked.
Charging that Republicans were discussing Davis’ comments now because they don’t want him on the ballot, Ellis added: “If you want somebody who only has poll-tested words come out of their mouths, Jane Corwin is your candidate.”
Meanwhile, Corwin announced that the Independence and Conservative parties had endorsed her, meaning she will have three lines on the ballot.
“Jane Corwin is a proven conservative who will fight for Western New York,” said Michael R. Long, the Conservative Party chairman.
Corwin said: “The support I’ve been shown by so many has been truly humbling.”
News Staff Reporter Barbara O’Brien contributed to this report.