New York Democrat Brian Higgins to resign

November 13, 2023
Matthew Boose

New York congressman Brian Higgins is resigning his position. 

A low-key moderate Democrat, Higgins has represented the Buffalo area in Washington since 2005. He cited frustration with political polarization in Washington D.C as his reason for leaving public office.

“It’s just a time for change, and I think this is the time,” he said.

“Congress is not the institution that I went to 19 years ago. It’s a very different place today,” he said. “We’re spending more time doing less. And the American people aren’t being served.”

New York Democrat resigns

Higgins will leave in February to start a job as president of Shea's Performing Arts Center in downtown Buffalo.

During his quiet tenure, Higgins worked on aviation safety after the 2009 Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash, which killed 50 people outside of Buffalo. It was the last major aviation disaster in American history.

Higgins was also credited with securing millions in funds to develop Buffalo's waterfront.

"I didn’t go to Washington 19 years ago to change the world. I went there to change my community and I think that we have in many, many ways,” Higgins said.

Special election to be called

Republicans have made gains in blue New York the last couple of election cycles. Their victories on Long Island in 2022 gave Republicans a narrow House majority.

Higgins' 26th district, which covers Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Tonawanda, North Tonawanda, and Lackawanna, is not likely to be very competitive in a general election.

However, Higgins' departure does set up a battle among leading Democrats in the area, including state senator Tim Kennedy, Buffalo mayor Byron Brown, and Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz, who just won re-election last week.

"His work in Washington and western New York will be remembered for what it was: strategic, innovative, and at its core, always focused on why we do what we do as public servants: help people," Kennedy said.

Governor Kathy Hochul (D) will call a special election once Higgins steps aside.

“Brian Higgins defined what public service is all about. The projects he took on against all odds will be part of his legacy. Friends since his days on the Buffalo City Council and especially during our days in Congress, I know he will take Shea’s to the next level,” Hochul said Sunday.

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