BUFFALO, N.Y. -- New York state Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, said his focus for the coming year is entirely on a run for Congress.
Kennedy officially launched his campaign and filed with the Federal Elections Commission Tuesday for New York's 26th Congressional District. As incumbent Rep. Brian Higgins plans to step down in February, Kennedy said he's already asked party leadership not only for their endorsement in a primary but the Democratic designation for an expected special election.
The lawmaker said he's focused on issues like codifying abortion rights and the saturation of illegal guns and assault weapons.
"I'm going to take the same energy, drive, passion for the community and work ethic that I've used in the state capital to deliver results here for Western New York and New York State down to Washington into the halls of Congress to continue to deliver results for our community, our state, but also for the rest of the nation," Kennedy said.
The legislator believes his long-time working relationship and friendship with Higgins will help make for an easier transition to a new congressional office. His decision comes just days after the congressman's announcement.
Other high-profile Democratic state lawmakers in Buffalo, state Sen. Sean Ryan and state Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes are not moving as quickly.
"It's just way too early in the game," Ryan said. "The congressman's not going to resign for several months so (there's a) lot of time between now and then. I'm deeply committed to representing Western New York in the New York state Senate and I won't have any further comment on that."
Peoples-Stokes said she's honored to be part of the conversation.
"I have not made any thoughts on that at all and I'm just going to wait things out," she said. "There's going to be a lot of movement going on around here in Western New York politics and I think we've got to let them all play out before we make calls."
Another Western New York Democrat who could challenge Kennedy's ascension is Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz who just won a fourth term last week. A spokesperson for his office said he's currently on vacation after a very long year and will talk to the media when he returns.
Poloncarz, just prior to the election, said his intention was to serve all four years but wouldn't take anything off the table.
"As I've said before, I mean if an opportunity arose that allowed me to work on a national level or in a different position that I think would best suit my skills as well as help the community, I would consider it. I've said that all the way since pretty much my first term," he said late last month.
Other potential candidates including Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, former Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton and former congressional candidate Nate McMurray have not indicated one way or the other their plans yet.