Elizabeth Benjamin / NY Daily News reports:
Erie County, NY – An upstate Republican who’s eying a run for governor has compared Shelly Silver, the Orthodox Jewish speaker of the state Assembly, with Adolf Hitler and the anti-Christ.
And now Erie County Executive Chris Collins says he’s really, really sorry.
The slur came during a speech Saturday night to fellow Republicans in Buffalo, while slamming Albany’s notorious “three men in a room” budget process – in which the governor and legislative leaders make deals in private.
Collins referenced famed French seer Nostradamus’ prediction that there would be three anti-Christs before the Apocalypse.
He said it’s generally accepted the first was Napoleon and the second Hitler.
He said he was “pretty sure” the third is Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, two attendees at the Erie County GOP’s annual fall fund-raiser at the Adam’s Mark Hotel said.
“No one clapped. No one cheered. No one laughed,” said a Western New York Republican who was at the event. “I know I didn’t. I thought it was a little harsh to be calling someone an anti-Christ.”
Through his spokesman, Collins said he had made a “poor joke” and extended his “sincerest apologies” to Silver.
“While we may disagree strongly on policy matters, my statement had no place in our political discourse and I am truly sorry to both the speaker and to anyone else who I may have offended,” Collins said.
A Silver spokesman declined to comment.
An Erie County Democrat was not surprised by Collins’ remarks, saying: “The statewide media can expect to see a lot more of these types of foot-in-mouth moments . . . . He’s an extremist who doesn’t think before he speaks.”
Collins was elected county exec in 2007. He has been raising money for a possible 2010 gubernatorial bid, but says he won’t run if Rudy Giuliani does.
Collins is allied with new state Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox, who has said he’d rather see Giuliani challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand instead of running for governor.
(Source: NY Daily News)