Democrats got a surprise on Sunday when Representative Brian Higgins from New York announced that he would be stepping down from his post in Congress early in the new year.
Higgins announced over the weekend that he would be stepping down in February, earlier than the end of his current two-year term. He has been serving in the House for the last 19 years.
He hasn’t immediately shared what his plans are next, though a Daily Wire report said he was set to become the president of the Shea’s Performing Arts Center. He’s currently a member of the Budget Committee and the Ways and Means Committee in the House.
In a statement announcing his planned departure, Higgins said:
“I’ve never lingered on Capitol Hill. I go there on a mission to change my community and return home on the first flight each week because being in Western New York, talking to people here, provides an urgent reminder of what I was sent to Washington to do.
“Too often, elected officials chase the 24-hour news cycle, focusing on the issue of the day, and when you look back, there is little to show for it. We have been deliberate in taking a different approach – committed to finding a focus, fighting for what really matters in the lives of people here in Western New York, and getting things done.”
Higgins touted many of the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve in his time in Congress, though he was also very quick to criticize what politics in Washington have become.
As he said in his statement:
“I’ve always been a little impatient, and that trait has helped us deliver remarkable progress for this community. But the pace in Washington, D.C., can be slow and frustrating, especially this year. Therefore, after thoughtful consideration, I have made the difficult decision to leave Congress and explore other ways I can build up and serve Buffalo and Western New York.
Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul will now have to schedule a special election to fill the remainder of Higgins’ term. The district that he represents leans heavily to the left, so it’s unlikely that Higgins’ departure would bring any shift to the power balance in the House.
Whoever wins the special election would have to run for re-election for the full two-year term. That election will be held in November 2024.
WKBW, a local affiliate of ABC, reported that some of the Democrats who might consider running in the special election include Mark Poloncarz, an Erie County executive; state Senators Sean Ryan and Tim Kennedy; and Byron Brown, the mayor of Buffalo.
In responding to Higgins’ announcement, Hochul posted on the social media platform X:
“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.”