Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2004, 5th term.

Born: October 6, 1959, Buffalo, NY

Home: Buffalo, NY

Education: S.U.N.Y. Buffalo, B.A. 1984, M.A. 1985, Harvard U. M.P.A. 1996

Professional Career: Chief of staff, Erie Cnty. Leg., 1994-98; Lecturer, Buffalo State College, 2000-03.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Catholic

Family: Married (Mary Jane Hannon) , 2 children

Democrat Brian Higgins, elected in 2004, devotes his energies to reviving the Buffalo area’s economy, from working to get money for a new federal courthouse to securing grants to help the local wine industry.

Higgins grew up in Buffalo, the son of a skilled tradesman who was prominent in local politics, serving on the Buffalo City Council and later as commissioner of the New York State Workers Compensation Board. His mother was a schoolteacher. Higgins graduated from Buffalo State College and later got a master’s degree from Harvard. A political junkie, he launched his career in government with staff jobs in the Erie County sheriff’s office, the state Assembly, and the county legislature. In 1993, after six years on the Buffalo City Council, he ran for county comptroller and lost. In 1998, he was elected to the Assembly and served three terms. In a district crowded with unionized workers, Higgins often reminded voters that his father and uncle were bricklayers and stressed his Irish immigrant heritage.

A House seat unexpectedly opened up in 2004, when Republican Rep. Jack Quinn announced he was retiring after 12 years. Nancy Naples, a former Merrill Lynch executive in Manhattan and a popular local figure with strong name recognition, quickly wrapped up the Republican nomination, while five Democrats battled for their party’s nomination. Higgins was the favorite of local and national Democratic leaders, organized labor, and The Buffalo News, which called him “an unusually productive member of a largely dysfunctional legislative body” in Albany. He won the primary with 44% of the vote.

In the contentious general election, Higgins reminded voters that Naples supported many of President George W. Bush’s policies and criticized Republicans for shifting the tax burden from the rich to the middle class. He also ran on a platform of making health care more widely available. Naples criticized Higgins for supporting tax increases in Albany. Higgins won 51%-49%, about a 3,800-vote victory.

In the House, Higgins established a centrist voting record with a liberal bent on economic issues. Hoping to kick off a debate about the importance of infrastructure, he introduced a bill in April 2012 calling for $1.25 trillion to be spent over five years to rebuild roads, bridges, railroads, ports, and airports. “This isn’t a stimulus bill, it’s a nation-building bill,” he told The News. “It’s rebuilding this country as we’ve rebuilt other countries—Iraq and Afghanistan—in recent years.” He helped create, and co-chairs, a Revitalizing Older Cities Task Force and also has sought tax credits to transform older neighborhoods.

After spending his first years securing his hold on the seat with an array of mostly successful efforts for his district, he was rewarded with a seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee in 2009. He initially vowed to oppose the December 2010 deal to extend the expiring Bush-era tax cuts because it would not extend the Renewal Communities program, which had brought $150 million in development to the district. He also criticized Republicans’ insistence on including tax cuts for the wealthy. But he said, “The cost of inaction would be far worse for western New York families and seniors.” He eventually voted for the deal. After the Republican takeover of the House in 2011, the number of Democratic seats on Ways and Means was reduced, and Higgins was forced off the committee. He took seats on the Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs committees.

Since developing skin cancer, Higgins has worked heavily on cancer research, introducing bills to establish a national cancer trust fund and pushing for money for Buffalo’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute. He helped to broker an agreement with the New York Power Authority for local financial aid, including waterfront improvements, in exchange for its long-term right to operate the Niagara Power Project. The issue strained his relationship with Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter in a nearby district, who disagreed with his strategy.

In the national debate over gun control, Higgins has sided with gun owners, voting in favor of a February 2011 amendment to block federal efforts to demand reports from gun dealers on sales of multiple semi-automatic rifles. But after the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre in December 2012, he called for “meaningful reforms” to gun laws.

Higgins has been reelected easily. He initially was concerned about the 2010 reapportionment, in which New York lost two House seats. He reportedly hired a lobbyist in 2011 to help him on the issue and donated $18,000 to the New York State Assembly Campaign Committee. He ended up with a heavily Democratic district and coasted to reelection in 2012 with 75% of the vote.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-3306

(202) 226-0347

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2459
Washington, DC 20515-3226

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-3306

(202) 226-0347

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2459
Washington, DC 20515-3226

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-3306

(202) 226-0347

726 Exchange Street Suite 601
Buffalo, NY 14210-1484

DISTRICT OFFICE

(716) 852-3501

(716) 852-3929

726 Exchange Street Suite 601
Buffalo, NY 14210-1484

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-3306

(202) 226-0347

640 Park Place
Niagara Falls, NY 14301

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-3306

(202) 226-0347

640 Park Place
Niagara Falls, NY 14301

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(202) 225-3306

(202) 226-0347

43 Morgan Road
Buffalo, NY 14220

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

43 Morgan Road
Buffalo, NY 14220

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Erin Meegan
Legislative Assistant

Acquisitions

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Aerospace

David Grossman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Appropriations

Erin Meegan
Legislative Assistant

Arts

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Banking

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Budget

Andrew Tantillo
Washington Chief of Staff; Legislative Director; Press Secretary

Census

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Commerce

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Communication

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Andrew Tantillo
Washington Chief of Staff; Legislative Director; Press Secretary

Congress

Andrew Tantillo
Washington Chief of Staff; Legislative Director; Press Secretary

Consumers

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Crime

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Disability

Erin Meegan
Legislative Assistant

Disaster

David Grossman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Economics

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Education

Erin Meegan
Legislative Assistant

Energy

David Grossman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Entertainment

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Environment

David Grossman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Family

Erin Meegan
Legislative Assistant

Finance

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Foreign

David Grossman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Gambling

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Gun Issues

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Health

Erin Meegan
Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

David Grossman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Housing

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Human Rights

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Immigration

David Grossman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Insurance

David Grossman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Intelligence

David Grossman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Internet

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Judiciary

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Labor

David Grossman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Land Use

David Grossman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Lobbying Politics

Andrew Tantillo
Washington Chief of Staff; Legislative Director; Press Secretary

Medicare

Erin Meegan
Legislative Assistant

Military

David Grossman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Minorities

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Erin Meegan
Legislative Assistant

National Security

David Grossman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Privacy

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Public Affairs

Andrew Tantillo
Washington Chief of Staff; Legislative Director; Press Secretary

Public Works

David Grossman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Regulation

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Religion

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Rules

Andrew Tantillo
Washington Chief of Staff; Legislative Director; Press Secretary

Science

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Seniors

Erin Meegan
Legislative Assistant

Small Business

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Social Security

Erin Meegan
Legislative Assistant

Tax

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Technology

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Telecommunications

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Trade

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Urban Affairs

Carol Burns
Legislative Assistant

Veterans

Erin Meegan
Legislative Assistant

Welfare

Erin Meegan
Legislative Assistant

Women

Erin Meegan
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2014 GENERAL
Brian Higgins
Votes: 79,344
Percent: 68.85%
Kathleen Weppner
Votes: 35,894
Percent: 31.15%
2012 GENERAL
Brian Higgins
Votes: 212,588
Percent: 74.79%
Michael Madigan
Votes: 71,666
Percent: 25.21%
2012 PRIMARY
Brian Higgins
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Brian Higgins
Votes: 119,085
Percent: 60.94%
Leonard Roberto
Votes: 76,320
Percent: 39.06%
2010 PRIMARY
Brian Higgins
Unopposed
2008 GENERAL
Brian Higgins
Votes: 185,713
Percent: 74.42%
Daniel Humiston
Votes: 56,354
Percent: 22.58%
2008 PRIMARY
Brian Higgins
Unopposed
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (61%), 2008 (74%), 2006 (79%), 2004 (51%)

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