David Bellavia | The Batavian (2024)

Table of Contents
Federal judge confirms removing David Bellavia from alleged conspiracy lawsuit Magistrate rules insufficient proof provided for ex-wife to sue David Bellavia David Bellavia seeks to dismiss and seal portion of federal lawsuit filed by ex-wife Lawsuit by ex-wife against David Bellavia, Orleans County, alleges false arrest as part of ugly divorce Video: Wreaths Across America at the WNY National Cemetery LIVE: Big Red One honors Medal of Honor winners, including David Bellavia LIVE: Interview with David Bellavia Bellavia suggests quote about enemies and wars being misunderstood by some people David Bellavia part of opening honoring veterans on the Tonight Show It's official: David Bellavia won't run for congress in special election Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia visits NYS Veterans Home in Batavia Discount offered to readers of The Batavian on tickets to David Bellavia event in Niagara Falls David Bellavia throwing out first pitch tonight for playoff game in Washington David Bellavia launches his new nonprofit for soldiers with Niagara Falls fundraiser Video: David Bellavia reflects on receiving the Medal of Honor Photo: The two Medals of Honor awarded to Batavians together for the first time Photos: Key to the City ceremony for David Bellavia Video: Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia receives the Key to the City in Batavia Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia to receive Key to the City on Tuesday Districtwide effort begins to convince David Bellavia to run for Congress

Federal judge confirms removing David Bellavia from alleged conspiracy lawsuit

By Howard B. Owens

A U.S. District Judge this week confirmed a prior recommendation by a federal magistrate to dismiss an alleged conspiracy lawsuit against Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia by his former wife, Deanna King.

Bellavia is a former Batavia resident, and King, a media personality and broadcaster in Rochester,currently resides in Batavia.

The suit stemmed from King's arrest on Jan. 27, 2021, in Orleans County, bya District Attorney investigator, Corey Black, on a harassment charge. In the lawsuit drafted by King's attorney, Nate McMurray, King alleged Black and Bellavia engaged in a conspiracy to have her arrested without probable cause as part of an effort to intimidate her during divorce proceedings.

District Judge John L. Sinatra, in affirming the recommendation of Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy, said that a complaint and an amended complaint filed by McMurray failed to prove a conspiracy.

"Moreover, the alleged conspiracy (in both versions of the complaint) lacks the requisite plausibility to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, namely, in its reliance on factually-bare speculation about a supposed improper agreement based solely on a pre-existing relationship between Defendant Black and David Bellavia," Sinatra wrote in his ruling.

In the complaint written by McMurray, King alleges that Black and Bellavia are lifelong friends and share a political affiliation but does not offer any evidence that the two men concocted a scheme to have King arrested.

McMurray argued that Black falsely portrayed himself as a law enforcement officer and arrested King without probable cause.

In his motions objecting to McCarthy's dismissal recommendation, he provided the accusatory document filed in conjunction with King's arrest. He argued under the language of the harassment statute, part of the definition of harassment is communication for "no legitimate purpose." McMurray said King contacted Bellavia about obtaining a health insurance card for one of their children.

Concern for the health of their children during the pandemic, McMurray argued, was a legitimate reason for King to contact Bellavia.

The accusatory, apparently written by Black,states that King has been previously instructed not to contact Bellavia by telephone and that King used the phone of her son to call Bellavia "for the sole purpose of harassing and annoying him. That said defendant stating (sic) her displeasure for (sic) an insurance card issue and stating (sic), 'I don't care where you are or if you're with your girlfriend.' All contrary to the provisions of the statute."

Except for any potential appeals, Sinatra's ruling removes Bellavia from the case. He is no longer a defendant in the suit. The other defendants in the case, alleged to have violated King's civil rights, are Orleans County, the Orleans County Sheriff's Office, the Orleans District Attorney's Office, Corey Black, and Deputy John Doe.

None of the other defendants have so far filed any motions in the case.

McMurray, an Erie County resident, campaignedunsuccessfully three times for a congressional seat that contained Genesee County.

Magistrate rules insufficient proof provided for ex-wife to sue David Bellavia

By Howard B. Owens

A U.S. Magistrate on Wednesday upheld a motion by David Bellavia to remove him as a codefendant in a lawsuit filed by his ex-wife alleging a conspiracy to effect a false arrest by officials in Orleans County in January 2021.

In his ruling, Magistrate Jeremiah J. McCarthy states that Nathan McMurray, the attorney for Deanna King,failed to make the case in his complaint filed with the court that King's arrest in the Town of Ridgeway lacked probable cause.

McCarthy said the complaint lacked the facts necessary to substantiate an arrest without probable cause.

The written opinion is a recommendation by McCarthy to the presiding federal judge, John L. Sinatra, who will issue a final ruling.

King, according to documents filed in Federal Court, was arrested in January 2021 while she and Bellavia were in the midst of a contested divorce. The case was eventually sealed by a justice in the Town of Ridgeway, and the final disposition of the casehas not been publicly disclosed.

Bellavia, a former Batavia resident, was bestowed the Medal of Honor by President Donald Trump in 2019. King is a Batavia resident and a broadcast personality in Rochester.

McMurray unsuccessfully ran for Congress three times, seeking a seat that would have included Genesee County. He is currently an attorney associated with Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys, based in New York City. He has represented George Maziarz in a lawsuit against Batavia Downs that was eventually dropped. He is also the attorney of record in a lawsuit against the Town of Irondequoit that was recently dismissed. He's reportedly also threatened the Veterans Administration with a lawsuit related to the Route 77 intersection next to the WNY National Cemetery in Pembroke.

In the initial claim written by McMurray on King's behalf, Bellavia is accused of threatening to have King arrested as part of an ongoing communication during their divorce proceedings. Bellavia was, according to the suit, upset with King becauseof social media posts. It alleges that Bellavia "followed through" on his threat by contacting a friend and political ally who works for the major crimes unit of the District Attorney's Office to effect King's arrest.

King claims that Corey Black called her at her home in January 2021 and informed her there was a warrant for her arrest.

There is no publicly available information on the warrant and which court might haveissued it, though the case was handled by the Town of Ridgeway Court.

In Divorce Court, King and Bellavia were apparently instructed to communicate only about the children using a parenting app called AppClose.

The initial complaint filed by McMurray states:

On January 8. 2021, he (Bellavia) texts,“You are going to get in trouble.”Ms. King never called him, other than her having her son call him after repeated attempts to obtain health insurance information via the parenting application had failed. Accordingly, Ms. King explained on December 31, 2021, “I haven’t called you or had any non-children contact related with you, nor do I have a desire to call you. I only wanted the health insurance information you wouldn’t give.”

None of the assertions made in the complaint, McCarthy ruled, rise to the level of proof that King was wrongfully arrested and that her civil rights were therefore violated.

"Although King repeatedly alleges that she was arrested and prosecuted without probable cause, she does so only in (a) conclusory fashion," McCarthy wrote.

Meaning, the magistrate believes McMurray, or King, is concluding that there was no probable cause but doesn't provide sufficient facts to substantiate the claim.

McMurray, via text message, said he disagrees with the magistrate's opinion.

"The court ordered Ms. King to communicate with Mr. Bellavia on a parenting app about the children, which she did," McMurray stated. "Mr. Bellavia, however, continued to harass and threaten her on the app, which is all documented. There was no probable cause to arrest Ms. King, an issue that the court has not ruled on as of yesterday."

McCarthy heard oral arguments in the case on Tuesday and, in his written ruling, was critical of McMurray's presentation and "failure to identify the factual and legalelements of the specific criminal charge against King because the criminal complaint was sealed."

It's unclear from court documents if McMurray or King sought to have her case unsealed, at least for the purpose of providing those documents to McCarthy. McCarthy indicates the documents were not available to the court and were apparently not reviewed by McMurray.

"How, then, could he allege in good faith that probable cause was lacking?" McCarthy wrote."By signing the Complaint and proposed Amended Complaint, he certified that 'to the best of [his] knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circ*mstances.”

In making the filing, McCarthy states, McMurray also asserted that“the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.”

McMurray, via text message, said he plans to object to the ruling.

"To explain what was actually decided, the judge did not yet resolve whether it was appropriate for an investigator for a district attorney (in a distant county) working in a major felony drug crimes unit — who was not a police officer and just happened to be the friend of the defendant, Mr. Bellavia — arrested a mom because she asked for a health insurance card for her kids. But we will proceed with our efforts to get answers."

Regarding McMurray's assertion of a "distant county," one of the assertions of King's complaint is that authorities in Orleans County did not have jurisdiction in the matter because neither Bellavia nor King lived in Orleans County at the time of the criminal complaint against King.

Bellavia declined to comment on the matter, but aclose associate of Bellavia's said that Bellavia has lived in Orleans County consistently since 2015.

Bellavia's attorneys, Donald W. O'Brien, Jr., and William F. Savino, declined to comment for this story.

According to a prior filing by the attorneys, many of the allegations made in King's complaint raise allegations made during the divorce proceeding and should have been kept confidential. They also sought to seal a memorandum delivered to the court by McMurray that made new allegations that, the attorneys said, were subject to seal as part of the divorce proceedings. Earlier this month, McCarthy declined to redact and seal those portions of King's complaint. The attorneys have the option to reapply for sealing that portion of the suit.

Orleans County, the Orleans County Sheriff's Office, the Orleans County District Attorney's Office, Corey Black, and "Deputy John Doe"are all named codefendants in the lawsuit, and the complaint against those defendants has not been dismissed. None of those codefendants have filed answers with the court, and McCarthy issued an indefinite stay of their requirement to respond pending further proceedings in the case.

David Bellavia seeks to dismiss and seal portion of federal lawsuit filed by ex-wife

By Howard B. Owens

A Rochester-based attorney for David Bellavia has filed motions to dismiss and seal portions of a federal lawsuit filed against him and Orleans County alleging a conspiracy to deny Bellavia's ex-wife her constitutional rights.

Attorney Donald W. O'Brien's court filings assert that the lawsuit is deficient in proving a conspiracy and was filed in part to make disparaging remarks about Bellavia a matter of public record.

The suit was filed on Nov. 4 on behalf of Deanna Bellavia (known professionally as Deanna King) by attorney Nathan McMurray. Plaintiffs in the suit include David Bellavia, Orleans County, the Orleans County Sheriff's Office, the Orleans County District Attorney's Office, Investigator Corey Black, and a Sheriff's Office employee listed as "John Doe."

The suit alleges that Bellavia and Black conspired to arrest King without probable cause and charge her with harassment for contacting Bellavia during their divorce proceedings in2021.

Bellavia, a former Batavia resident who is originally from Orleans County and has resided there in recent years, received the Medal of Honor in 2019 for his actions during the Battle of Fallujah during the Iraq War.

King, who lives in Batavia,is a radio and TV broadcaster in Rochester.

McMurray has previously sought to represent Genesee County and the surrounding areain Congress. Earlier this year, McMurray filed a suit on behalfofformer state senator George Maziarzagainst Batavia Downs that was subsequently dropped.

The federal lawsuit alleges government officials, acting under the color of law, conspired with Bellavia to have King arrested in order to discredit her during divorce proceedings. The arrest, according to the suit, violated her rights to be free of unreasonable search and seizure and equal protection under the law.

O'Brien does not dispute that Bellavia filed a complaint against King alleging violations of a court agreement that limited contact between the parties but states that such contacts with law enforcement do not constitute a conspiracy and cites specific case law to support his assertion.

"Assuming these allegations are true, there is nothing sinister in Mr. Bellavia furnishing evidence to the Municipal Defendants upon which they based the harassment charges that resulted in Plaintiff's Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD)," the motion states. "Mr. Bellavia does not deny that he was the complainant in the underlying criminal case (emphasis retained). However, 'it has long been held that a private party does not become a willful participant by merely invoking the assistance of the police.' DeSantis v. Town of Cheektowaga, 2020 "

In his motions, O'Brien states that McMurray, in drafting the complaint filed in Federal Court, failed to identify a specific section of the United States Code on which King's claim of conspiracy was based.

He also asserts that the plaintiff's claims of a conspiracy are "based on conclusory assertions unsupported by any factual details tending to show, or even raise an inference of, an agreement to deprive Plaintiff of her constitutional rights. Rather, the conspiracy claim against Mr. Bellavia consists entirely of vague and general allegations of a conspiracy and relies upon mere connection and speculation."

To prove a conspiracy, O'Brien asserts, the plaintiff must provide details of a time and place when the conspirators reached an agreement to deny the plaintiff of her rights. The suit, he states, fails to present such evidence.

O'Brien is asking the court to strike and seal several paragraphs in the lawsuit as "scandalous and prejudicial" and that the claims in those paragraphs, even if there was any merit to the conspiracy claim, have no relevancetothe case.

"Paragraphs 11 through 17 and 19 through 28, however, have no bearing on the single claim against Mr. Bellavia in the Complaint," O'Brien states. "Rather, these highly prejudicial allegations appear to have been included to obtain leverage in this action and to compensate for the absence of any factual allegations to support her conspiracy claims. The truth or falsity of these challenged allegations is immaterial to Plaintiff's claim against Mr. Bellavia. If Plaintiff believes that her claim is somehow enhanced by allegations that these two parties endured a contentious divorce, then Paragraph 18 adequately makes that assertion. The remaining seventeen paragraphs, however, are irrelevant and prejudicial and should be stricken."

A footnote in the motion notes that "Mr. Bellavia is not seeking dismissal of the Plaintiff's third claim for malicious prosecution since it is not directed at him. It should be noted, however, that the Plaintiff's agreement to an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal means that she cannot establish that the underlying prosecution was terminated in her favor, as she is required to do."

When King's case was dismissed in accordance with her plea agreement in the Town of Ridgeway, the court record was sealed, and the court clerk in Ridgeway has denied there even is a criminal case on file in that court.

O'Brien also asserts that a number of claims made against Bellavia in the lawsuit violate the divorce decree's confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses.

The divorce was final on Dec. 28, 2021.

"Plaintiff and her counsel were well aware of the restrictions placed on their ability to engage in such unrestrained and harmful public disclosures," O'Brien states.

The Batavian attempted to contact McMurray today for comment and did not get a response. He did not respond when we sought comment for a prior story on the lawsuit. It should be noted that McMurray has previously indicated he has blocked communication from The Batavian's publisher (see related item).

None of the other defendants in the case have filed responses yet. The federal docket(Pacer account required) indicates all defendants were served prior to Dec. 9.

The filing of the lawsuit against Bellavia and the other defendants coincided with the release of Bellavia's new book, "Remember the Ramrods: An Army Brotherhood in War and Peace."

On Dec. 28, Federal JudgeJeremiah J. McCarthy granted Bellavia's "motion for leave to file under seal," which allows O'Brien to file supporting documents from the divorce proceedings for the court's review while keeping the documents sealed.

McMurray has until Jan. 13 to file a response to the motion to dismiss. A hearing has been scheduled in Federal Court on Jan. 24.

Lawsuit by ex-wife against David Bellavia, Orleans County, alleges false arrest as part of ugly divorce

By Howard B. Owens

David Bellavia | The Batavian (1)

The ex-wife of David Bellavia, former Batavia resident and a Medal of Honor recipient, has filed a Federal lawsuit against the Orleans County Sheriff's Office alleging a violation of her civil rights for an arrest on a harassment charge in January 2021.

David Bellavia is named as a co-defendant in the suit. The suit was filed on Nov. 4.

The suit contains numerous accusations made by Batavia resident Deanna Marlene Bellavia, known professionally as Deanna King, against Bellavia as part of a contentious divorce proceeding that preceded her arrest by Corey Black, who is also named in the suit.

The suit states that King was informed there was an arrest warrant for her in Orleans County. At first, she thought it was a prank. To confirm it was real, she contacted a family member in a command position at theGenesee County Sheriff's Office, He confirmed there was indeed a warrant for her arrest. She made arrangements for the family member, not identified by name in the suit, to be with her in Orleans County when she turned herself in.

Corey Black is identified as a former sheriff's deputy andan investigator for the Orleans County District Attorney's Office. It states Blackwas nota deputy at the time of King's arrest and states he confronted her with evidencethat consisted of a screenshot of David Bellavia's phone log documenting a call from one of the sons of the couple regarding health insurance coverage. There was also amessage on an app encouraging David Bellavia to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before visiting his children. The suit states David Bellavia had traveled nationally during the pandemic on speaking engagements and expressed concern for the safety of the children.

The suit states that when King expressed disbelief, "Blackcryptically and rather threateningly responded, 'There's more to it than that, but David didn't want to pursue it.'"

The suit claims that Black -- whom the suit also claims is a "right-wing political activist" -- then "confirmed" that he and Bellavia were good friends.

The suit alleges that Black arrested King without probable cause and that an unnamed deputy assisted in her arrest and that Black was acting outside the law as a personal or political favor to Bellavia.

Sheriff Christopher M. Bourke said his office did not arrest King.

District Attorney Joseph V. Cardone said he knew nothing of the suit and saidthat investigators in his office make arrests on a daily basis. He did not specifically confirm that Black arrested King.

Cardone's office is a co-defendant in the suit. Cardonesaid he could not comment on the suit. He said he has not been served and had not read the complaint.

"I’m unclear as to what she is claiming," he said.

Black has not returned a call from The Batavian requesting comment.

The court clerk for the Town of Ridgeway said there is no court record of an arrest of King.

King told The Batavian she could not comment on the case and referred The Batavian to her attorney Nate McMurray. The Batavian left a message for McMurray to clarify the status of her arrest. He has not returned the call.

If the case is resolved, it's possible the file has been sealed, compelling the court clerk to deny it exists.

Bellavia referred a request for comment on the suit to his attorney, Joan Adams, of Williamsville. Adams has not responded to a message from The Batavian left with her assistant.

The defendants are accused in the lawsuit of denying King her rights of due process and equal protection under the law. It doesn't specify how much the defendants should pay in damages.

The suit identifies Bellavia as a "political provocateur and radio host" who ran for Congress, has publicly engaged in conspiracies and aligned himself with Donald Trump, MichaelCaputo (a former consultant to Trump who briefly served in his administration), and Carl Paladino (a Buffalo developer who has run for governor and Congress).

While the suit describes loving moments and support following Bellavia's and King's marriage in 1999, it also accuses Bellavia of being aggressive and abusive. It specifies several abusive comments allegedly made by Bellavia to King and their three children.

It also claims that Bellavia frequently threatened King with violence, though it does not specify any actual violent action against King.

David Bellavia was awarded the Medal of Honor in the White House by then-President Donald Trump in July 2019. Bellavia is the only living member of the armed forces who fought in Iraq to receive the Medal of Honor. The award was presented for his actions on Nov. 10, 2004, in Fallujah when Bellavia engaged multiple insurgents in an unlit house at night, killing four insurgents and wounding a fifth.

Divorce proceedings began in 2019.

In his new book, "Remember the Ramrods: An Army Brotherhood in War and Peace," Bellavia discusses the awkwardness of going through with the ceremony with his family at a time when he was already alienated from his wife.

"Their mother had insisted she come along to D.C., despite our impending divorce," he writes."If I hadn’t agreed, the kids would not be allowed to come with me, so I had no real choice on this. The discomfort of two estranged people looking at a weekend together in Washington, D.C., under a microscope of media attention, was something the DoD tried to prepare me for, but until I was living it in the moment, I don’t think either of us understood what this would mean."

The arrest in 2021, the suit alleges, was carried out "to discredit, humiliate" King during the divorce proceedings.

The suit alleges that King did not get fair treatment in divorce proceedings because the presiding judge was Charles Zambito, who had made political contributions to Bellavia. Zambito was not on the bench at the time Bellavia was a candidate for Congress.

"Repeatedly," the suit states, "throughout the course of the divorce proceedings, Judge Zambito ignored evidence of domestic abuse and extreme harassment by Defendant Bellavia—even attempting to pressure Plaintiff to sign a non-disclosure agreement regarding the divorce proceedings—which she refused."

The divorce was finalized in December of 2021, the suit states, and that Bellavia now lives in Florida and has "limited interaction with his children" or King.

In his new book, Bellaviadiscusses the disconnect he felt with his family back home.

"In this world of normalcy, the people who should have been that innermost circle of my life -- my children, my family -- were almost strangers to me," Bellavia saidin the prologue. "I'd been a continent or more away from the majority of my son's young life. I barely had time to experience fatherhood before I deployed overseas. I had a family of my own, but I didn't know them. Rectifying that became the defining feature of my life for many years.

"My real family was still overseas, scattered to different units and areas of operation."

On the side of preserving his marriage while in the military,he concedes that he reached a point where he couldn't accept another overseas deployment. The end result, he wrote, would be divorce. "I wanted to save my family and serve my country. I realized I couldn't do both. I had a decision to make. The hardest of my life."

In the book, Bellavia recounts the divorces of several of the men he served with in Iraq.

"For our generation of warriors, more than the World War II guys, the complexities of a broken marriage and a byzantine, contentious divorce became part of the consequence of our service long ago," he writes. "Most of the Ramrods have gone through it, emerging with deep battle scars that challenged their ability to ever trust again. To be clear, there is no clear right or wrong in these situations. It takes two to make a marriage fail. Right or wrong isn’t the point."

Bellavia and King's attorney, McMurray, have each sought to represent Genesee County in Congress, in separate races. Both lost to now-disgraced former representative Chris Collins, who was convicted on insider trading charges and lying to the FBI in 2019. Bellavia lost to Collins in the 2012 primary, and Collins went on to beat incumbent Kathy Hochul, who is now New York's governor. McMurray lost to Collins in 2018. He lost to Chris Jacobs in 2020.

McMurray recently represented former state senatorGeorge Maziarz in a lawsuit against Batavia Downs that was eventually dropped.

For The Batavian's prior coverage of David Bellavia, click here.

Photo: File photo by Howard Owens of David Bellavia in the White House after receiving the Medal of Honor.

Video: Wreaths Across America at the WNY National Cemetery

By Howard B. Owens

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Former Batavia resident David Bellavia, a Medal of Honor recipient, was the featured speaker today in a ceremony honoring veterans who have passed away and are buried at the WNY National Cemetery.

The event, Wreaths Across America, took place today at military cemeteries across America. Friends, family members, and volunteers laid wreaths at the grave sites of the men and women who served this nation.

LIVE: Big Red One honors Medal of Honor winners, including David Bellavia

By Howard B. Owens

Medal of Honor recipient David G. Bellavia is being honored by the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley in Kansas as part of the Big Red One Year of Honor Opening Day events.

The event includes a street dedication in the name of Bellavia, with a street on the base becoming Bellavia Way.Three other streets will be renamed in honor of three other Medal of Honor winners this year.

Throughout the year, the 1st Infantry Division will celebrate the Big Red One Year of Honor, a yearlong tribute to the 37 Big Red One soldiers who have been awarded the nation’s highest honor.

Bellavia served in 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

LIVE: Interview with David Bellavia

By Howard B. Owens

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Interview with David Bellavia, Medal of Honor Recipient, and a one-time candidate for NY-27. We're going to talk about the NY-27 race and the situation with the novel coronavirus. We're scheduled to start at 2 p.m.

Bellavia suggests quote about enemies and wars being misunderstood by some people

By Howard B. Owens

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At the height of tensions between Iran and the United States this week, a portion of the speech Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia gave during the Hall of Heroes ceremony at the Pentagon in June went viral on social media.

The quote: "We will not be intimidated. We will not back down. We’ve seen war. We don’t want war, but if you want a war with the United States of America, there is one thing I can promise you, so help me God: someone else will raise your sons and daughters."

Bellavia told WBEN yesterday that he doesn't think people are getting from the speech the message he intended.

"It certainly wasn't intended to be a sabre-rattling to say, 'Let's go throw a country against the wall because we're America,' it was meant to say that veterans are anti-war individuals -- we're professionals, we don't want this," he said. "We don't want to be away from our families, and we certainly don't want to go through the hardship of gunfire and conflict.

"That being said, there is a reason why we chose to do it, and we have to respect our professionalism and lethality," Bellavia continued. "We're just simply not going to live in a world where countries can intimidate or threaten us, and just know when you make that commitment when you sign the dotted line and say, 'I want this fight with the United States,' there needs to be a plan because you're not coming home.

"You're not going to survive it; it's a one-way ticket, and I think the more folks that realize that there is no hope in winning a conventional fight against us, hopefully, that deters more people to try it. By being robust and elite, maybe we can stop future conflicts."

Bellavia was also asked about the possibility of peace in the Middle East -- a war-torn region that always seems to be at odds. Bellavia noted that he's a Bills (fan), which means he inherently possesses a sense of optimism, regardless of how misplaced it may be.

"The people have had enough, and I believe that when you look at the Arab Uprising, you look at the food riots that were occurring in 2005, 2006 and 2007, all across that region, people in the Middle East are tired of insecurity, they're tired of having their governments and their dictators steal from them, and they're tired of losing a generation of young men in bloodshed that they don't understand," he said. "I always think there's hope, and I always think there's an opportunity where our kids and their kids are going to be able to live in peace."

Video: The Hall of Heroes ceremony.

David Bellavia part of opening honoring veterans on the Tonight Show

By Howard B. Owens

It's official: David Bellavia won't run for congress in special election

By Howard B. Owens

David Bellavia | The Batavian (2)

Today, Medal of Honor recipientDavid Bellavia issued a statement confirming that he will not seek the NY-27 congressional seat, endings months of speculation in political circles about his plans.

“I am formally announcing I will not run for Congress in the 27th District of New York in the upcoming Special Election. My service to our great community and country is unwavering, but I have a new responsibility to the U.S. Army. The Medal of Honor recognition is providing me with an incredible opportunity to serve at a level not thought possible just a few months ago. I am traveling the country, as an ambassador for Western New York, educating and influencing future soldiers and fellow citizens, as well as training and advising military leadership.

"Acting upon my long-standing and sincere desire to run for Congress at this time would require me to set aside pre-existing commitments I have made to my Army, my family, and those with whom I do business. I have carefully considered the needs and advice of party leadership and those closest to me and I am extremely thankful and forever humbled by the overwhelming support from Western New York.

"Go Bills!Go Sabres!”

Bellavia ran for the seat in the 2012 primary and lost to Chris Collins, who resigned office three weeks ago in conjunction with his guilty plea on federal insider trading charges.

Currently, Bellavia is traveling and is unavailable for further comment.

It's expected that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will call a special election at which point GOP candidates will likely be interviewed by the seven GOP county committee chairs in the district and the chairs will select a candidate for the special election ballot.

That wouldn't preclude any candidate from any party running on a third-party line, as Jack Davis did in 2011 after Chris Lee resigned. Bellavia endorsed Davis in that race and Kathy Hochul beat the handpicked GOP candidate, Jane Corwin.

Assuming there is a special election, likely April 28, in conjunction with the Democratic presidential primary in New York,there would still be a primary election in June and a general election in November 2020.

After Bellavia won the Medal of Honor, political consultant and Trump ally Michael Caputo started a Draft David Bellavia committee in an effort to show Bellavia that he had the support of voters in the district to run and win the seat.Most political observers considered him a shoo-in to win if he ran.

Caputo issued the following statement:

The 27th Congressional District has the luxury of a wealth of qualified Republican candidates. Our draft team thought David was the best one, but only if it matched his aspirations. We respect his decision and wish him the best the world has to offer. We also look forward to seeing what this new chapter brings in his life of service to our nation.

There are potential candidates for the seat who have been waiting on the sidelines for Bellavia to make his decision, including Assemblyman Steve Hawley andErie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw.

Hawley issued the following statement:

I have the utmost respect for David and his service to our country. His decision to continue his service as an emissary for the U.S. Army is laudable and honorable. I will continue to weigh my options. I enjoy being an elected representative in Western New Yorkfighting for the values that make our area very special. It’s HOME.

Mychajliw's statement:

"NY27’s loss is the country’s gain - and I know David will continue to serve our country with honor and excellence in his next role. David deserved the respect and time to make his decision, on his terms, and as I’ve said, I would make a decision once he made his.

One thing I am certain of - with impeachment of President Trump on the line, we cannot let this seat fall into the hands of a pro-choice, Never Trumper who only claims to support the President now that there’s a political promotion on the line. Washington doesn’t need another weak, opportunistic politician - it needs fearless conservatives who will take the fight to the Democrats and stand with President Trump.

Within the next few days, I’ll make a final decision on running in NY-27 to ensure we have a voice that actually fights for conservatives, not one that simply poses as a conservative."

Among the candidates already running is State Sen. Rob Ortt.Here's his statement:

“U.S. Army SSG. David Bellavia is a national hero who will continue to serve our country in a manner that we should all be grateful for. I commend David on his decision to continue representing the Army and for his work founding the Deuce Deuce Relief Fund, and I look forward to working with him in the future to ensure that our veterans are made a priority when returning home from combat. The health and well-being of our veterans are one of the reasons I have chosen to run for Congress, and the need for battle-tested veteran leadership in Washington, D.C. is greater now than ever before.”

Photo: File photo byPaula Zack of David Bellavia receiving the key to the city from Batavia City Council President Eugene Jankowski.

Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia visits NYS Veterans Home in Batavia

By Billie Owens

David Bellavia | The Batavian (3)

Submitted photos and press release:

Medal of Honor recipientDavid G. Bellaviaappeared at the NYS Veterans Home on Thursday, Oct. 10, as part of a wish-granting experience created by the local nonprofit, Senior Wishes.

Bellavia, an Army Staff Sergeant and the first living Iraq War Veteran to receive a U.S. Medal of Honor, spoke to residents, staff and guests, including members of the Combat Vets Association.

His speech was followed by a reception organized by Senior Wishes which included refreshments, and the opportunity for guests to meet with Bellavia, who graciously shared his Medal of Honor, posed for picturesand signed copies of his book.

The event was planned as part of an introduction of Senior Wishes to the Batavia community, as the program has just expanded from Erie and Niagara counties to also serve residents of Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans counties.

Established in 2013 by the United Church Home Society (UCHS), Senior Wishes’ mission is to honor and recognize the lifelong contributions of our oldest citizens by granting meaningful wishes that will enhance seniors’ lives.

According to Wendy Miller Backman, Senior Wishes executive director,“Senior Wishes was created to recognize that our aging seniors still have things they want to do, places they want to go, or people they want to see.We transform those dreams into a reality.”

The program has granted more than 250 wishes in Erie and Niagara counties, and strives to grant more wishes to seniors by expanding into more counties.

Wish requests may be big or small.Previous wishes have included air travel to visit long-missed family, cheering on a favorite team in person, and revisiting an abandoned hobby.

Wish recipients must be 65+ and a resident of Western New York with an annual income under $38,000 for a household of one or under $44,000 for a household of two.Permanent residents of care facilities are exempt from the income qualification.Vacations, medical items, household repairs, bill payments and travel outside of the continental United Statesare excluded.

To learn how to apply for a wish, visitwww.seniorwishes.orgor call Wendy at 716-508-2121.

David Bellavia | The Batavian (4)

Discount offered to readers of The Batavian on tickets to David Bellavia event in Niagara Falls

By Howard B. Owens

The City of Niagara Falls is honoring David Bellavia at 3 p.m. Saturday with a Key to the City and Bellavia will deliver a talk, "Duty 1st with David Bellavia: Serving Country and Community."

Duty 1st is offering 50 percent off on tickets for this event to readers of The Batavian. Use this link to purchase the discounted tickets.

Press release:

The public is invited to "Duty 1st with David Bellavia: Serving Country and Community," a 3 p.m. talk by the Medal of Honor recipient, who will be honored by the Niagara Falls community with a Key to the City. In addition, there will be a full speaking engagement and meet-and-greet.

Since getting the Medal of Honor, Bellavia has had the honor to talk to audiences from children to World War II veterans all around the Country -- he’s talked about patriotism, and service above self and shared laughs and tears with folks along the way. Now, he will finally get to deliver a talk for his friends and neighbors, hosted by the Rapid Theatre in Niagara Falls -- where half the event will be a sit-down Q&A with the audience.

The Oct. 12 event will also serve as a kick-off for a new nonprofit organization created by Bellavia, called Deuce Deuce Relief Fund Inc., which will benefit soldiers from Bellavia's prior Task Force in Iraq (Task Force 2-2).

General admission tickets are $22 (Deuce-Deuce) at the door – but Batavian readers can get a 50-percent off discount right now by preregistering using promo code Batavian. There are also publicly available deep discounts for military, whether active or VET/retired (75-percent off), and Gold Star families (free) – available at checkout, with no code required.

Tickets are available at DavidBellavia.com or on EventBrite.com – but here’s the custom link with embedded discount code: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/duty-1st-with-david-bellavia-serving-country-and-community-tickets-72099291923?discount=Batavian. If there are any issues, just enter discount code: Batavian.

Staff Sgt. Bellavia also will sign copies of his book "House to House: A Soldier's Memoir," which will be for sale onsite during this event at the Rapids Theatre, 1711 Main St., Niagara Falls.

Prior video coverage of David Bellavia's Medal of Honor:

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David Bellavia throwing out first pitch tonight for playoff game in Washington

By Howard B. Owens

David Bellavia | The Batavian (5)

Press release:

Army Staff Sgt. Bellavia of Western New York has been invited to throw out the first pitch at tonight's Washington Nationals baseball game against the the L.A. Dodgers (Oct. 6). The game in D.C. begins at 7:45 p.m. and will be aired on TBS.The two teams are tied at 1-1.

Shortly after receiving the Medal of Honor at the White House on June 25, Bellavia threw out the first pitch at the Mets/Yankees game on the Fourth of July.

Coming up
This Saturday, Oct. 12, Bellavia will be honored by theNiagaraFalls community with a key to the city and present the talk "Duty 1st with David Bellavia: Serving Country and Community" at the Rapids Theatre. Tickets to the 3 p.m. event are $22 and willbenefita newnonprofit createdbyBellavia calledDeuce Deuce Relief Fund.

This inaugural fundraiser and Deuce Deuce benefits soldiers from Bellavia's prior Task Force in Iraq (Task Force 2-2), who may be experiencing hardship or require other assistance.

Tickets are available online throughEventBrite, with a link atDavidBellavia.com.

Photo: Submitted by Duty 1st courtesy the New York Mets. The photo is from the Mets v. Yankees game earlier this year.

UPDATE: Video below courtesy Duty 1st.

David Bellavia launches his new nonprofit for soldiers with Niagara Falls fundraiser

By Billie Owens

Press release:

The public is invited to "Duty 1st with David Bellavia: Serving Country and Community," a talk by the Medal of Honor recipient at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12. The event will kick off with a ceremony as Staff Sgt. Bellavia is honored by the Niagara Falls community with a key to the city.

Following the talk, he will sign copies of his book "House to House: A Soldier's Memoir," which will be for sale onsite during this event at The Rapids Theatre, 1711 Main St., Niagara Falls.

The will serve as a fundraiser for a new nonprofit organization created by Bellavia, called Deuce Deuce Relief Fund Inc. The fund benefits soldiers from Bellavia's prior Task Force in Iraq (Task Force 2-2), supporting soldiers and their families who are experiencing hardship or require other assistance.

"Duty 1st with David Bellavia” is Deuce Deuce's inaugural fundraiser and is generously hosted by The Rapids Theatre. General admission tickets are $22 (Deuce-Deuce). Doors will open at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available online through EventBrite, with a link at DavidBellavia.com.

Highly in demand, Bellavia has been speaking around the country throughout the summer, and now his community has an opportunity to hear him speak at the Oct. 12 event.

About David Bellavia

David Bellavia is the only living Iraq veteran to receive the Medal of Honor, which is our country’s highest military honor.

For the June 25 Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House, the Western New York community supported Bellavia’s dream of being surrounded by every living member of his Task Force when he received the honor.

More than 750 of his neighbors donated funds to make that dream a reality. Bellavia has said, “The Medal of Honor is for all who served with me in Iraq.”

He served three military campaigns: Kosovo 2003; and Operation Iraqi Freedom I; and Operation Iraqi Freedom II.

Bellavia is a graduate of Lyndonville High School in Orleans County and the University of Buffalo. He resides with his family in Western New York.

Video: David Bellavia reflects on receiving the Medal of Honor

By Howard B. Owens

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David Bellavia visited the Holland Land Office Museum on Wednesday at the request of The Batavian for an exclusive interview to discuss his experience in Washington the week he received the Medal of Honoron June 25in a ceremony at the White House and was inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon.

In the interview, we discuss not only his Medal of Honor, but the Medal of Honor received by Charles F. Rand, a Batavia resident often credited with being the first to enlist in the Army as a volunteer at the start of the Civil War. We discussed the "bubble" Bellavia was in during his time in Washington; the time he spent with the men he went to war with in Iraq;the men who didn't come home, most notably Capt. Sean Sims; what it was like on stage in the East Room during the Medal of Honor ceremony; the rush of people around him during the reception after the ceremony; what it means to represent the Army as a Medal of Honor recipient; and why he wanted to be sure to include in the events his friends from Western New York, especially the GLOW counties.Now that he's personally met President Donald Trump, we also asked for his measure of the man. And finally, we discussed his childrens' reaction, especially his sons, to the award.

NOTE AND POSSIBLE CORRECTION: We have been referring to David Bellavia and Charles Rand, including in this video, as the only two Batavia residents to receive the Medal of Honor.We knew about James E. Cross but the history on Cross, as passed along to us, has been that he was born in Darien and enlisted in Batavia.County Clerk Michael Cianfrini wrote yesterday to suggest that Cross was a resident of Batavia.This morning I did a quick search on ancestry.com and it appears Cross was a resident of Batavia during the 1860 and 1870 censuses.It appears that he enlisted in Elmira.He was discharged with a disability in 1862 and was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1898.We'll see if we can find out more.

Photo: The two Medals of Honor awarded to Batavians together for the first time

By Howard B. Owens

David Bellavia | The Batavian (6)

Today, The Batavian conducted an exclusive interview with Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia at the Holland Land Office Museum.

This photo shows the first time the medal awarded to Bellavia and the medal awarded to Charles F. Randare in the same room together. Bellavia and Rand are the only two Batavians to have received the Medal of Honor.

Our interview today with Bellavia focused on his experience in Washington, D.C., last month when he received the Medal of Honor from President Donald Trump. David and I discuss some of the observations and insights Bellavia has not discussed yet in other interviews.

Below, a video we did previously about Charles Rand and our video covering Bellavia's Medal of Honor Week, in case you haven't seen it yet, to prep you for the video interview. I hope to have that edited and later to post tonight sometime, or in the morning, at least.

UPDATE 5:30 p.m.: When I posted this, I wasn't thinking about the fact that we have the opening of Batavia Downs tonight. Covering that will greatly delay my ability to finish this video.

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Photos: Key to the City ceremony for David Bellavia

By Howard B. Owens

David Bellavia | The Batavian (7)

ReaderPaula Zack describes herself as an amateur photographer but she did a good job yesterday of capturing in still photos the program yesterday of David Bellavia receiving the Key to the City. We wanted to share them with you.

David Bellavia | The Batavian (8)

David Bellavia | The Batavian (9)

David Bellavia | The Batavian (10)

Video: Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia receives the Key to the City in Batavia

By Howard B. Owens

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In a short ceremony at City Hall, Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia received the Key to the City from Batavia City Council President Eugene Jankowski.

Following the ceremony, Bellavia met and spoke with every single person who came to the ceremony and stayed for the chance to meet him, shake his hand, take a selfie, and even hold his Medal of Honor.

Following the event, Bellavia participated in a short press conference inside City Hall. That video is below.

Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia to receive Key to the City on Tuesday

By Howard B. Owens

David Bellavia, who received the Medal of Honor on June 25, will receive the Key to the City of Batavia in a homecoming program at 2 p.m., Tuesday.

Bellavia will be honored by city and county officials and will be asked to make a few remarks in a short program in front of City Hall.

Since receiving the Medal of Honor, Bellavia has been on the road almost constantly, traveling to New York City and Los Angeles to make public and media appearances on behalf of the Army.

President Donald Trump presented the Medal of Honor to Bellavia during a ceremony at the White House last month. Bellavia is the first living combat veteran from the Iraq War to receive the nation's highest military honor.

The award was presented for his heroic actions, saving the lives of his entire platoon, during the Second Battle of Fallujah on Nov. 10, 2004, which also happened to be his birthday. Bellavia distinguished himself by taking on a stronghold of insurgents single-handedly, killing four and seriously wounding a fifth.

A brass band is expected to play during the program and local veterans will be attendance to honor Bellavia, a Batavia resident.

The public is invited to the event.

In the event of rain, the program will be moved to the interior of City Centre, just inside the doors of City Hall.

City offices will close temporarily at 1:30 p.m.Tuesday and Jefferson Avenue will be closed during the program.

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  • 'Extraordinary service': Batavia's SSgt. Bellavia first living Iraq vet awarded Medal of Honor
  • Video: David Bellavia inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon
  • Photos: David Bellavia tours the Lincoln Memorial
  • Coverage: David Bellavia Medal of Honor press conference

Districtwide effort begins to convince David Bellavia to run for Congress

By Howard B. Owens

David Bellavia | The Batavian (11)

Before the public learned David Bellavia would be awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Iraq War in Fallujah, the Batavia resident was on the shortlist of possible candidates for the NY-27, even in a possible primary challenge to Rep. Chris Collins.

After the award was announced, when the topic came up, Bellavia demurred. He expressed concern that entering the political fray could tarnish the medal. He said he wanted to serve his country and the best way to do that might be helping theArmy recruit new soldiers.

His former political consultant, Michael Caputo, thinks Bellavia needs to hear loud and clear from the citizens of the NY-27 that the best way for the Iraq War veteran to serve his country is as a member of Congress.

Today, Caputo, along with the help of seven political leaders in all seven counties of the district, launched a "Draft Bellavia Campaign," aimed at demonstrating to Bellavia that the people of the district do want him to serve in Congressand it puts in place an organization to support a campaign -- and a list of potential donors -- so that when and if Bellavia does decide to run, he's ready to go.

"We’re at a point in this country here where we need heroes," Caputo said."When I look around Congress and Washington,I see very few heroes. We have in David Bellavia right here in Western New York -- a hero -- and I think we need to look at our own hero and tell him we want him to run for Congress if he wants to.

"At a time when our country needs heroes like never before, and I think everybody realizes, and we have in our midst a bonafide hero, it is our responsibility as a community to step up and elect one for our own heroes, like it is the responsibility of any community to deliver good, honest leadership."

Caputo hopes Bellavia will make the decision by the end of October, or at least after the holidays.

The Genesee County chair for the Draft Bellavia movement is City Councilman Adam Tabelski.

"I'm joining to encourage David to run because I care deeply about our country and our government," Tabelski said. "Its future will either be shaped by people who are the best we can find or by somebody else, and I think David is an outstanding individual who is among the best we could hope to represent us in Congress."

Bellavia is currently employed by the Army and traveling on behalf of the military. He cannot participate in a political campaign. Caputo said he informed Bellavia of the "Draft Bellavia" effort and Bellavia neither encouraged nor waived off the effort.

Yesterday, Bellavia returned to his radio show on WBEN in Buffalo for one day and when asked about a potential run for Congress, he again expressed concern that a run for office could be misconstrued now that he's won the Medal of Honor.

"I just I have so much reverence for this award," Bellavia said on air."I know for the longest time what we do on this show is we stir the pot. We, you know, sometimes antagonize and sometimes poke people we disagree with, and I just I don't ever want anyone to say that this award is being used for anything other than promoting what I think is the most important thing for the future of this republic, which is getting young people to make the decision that myself and all of my friends made, and it made our lives better, and that was serving our country in uniform."

When pressed by cohost Tom Bauerle, however, Bellavia said he will serve his country in whatever way he feels compelled to serve.

"I'm not ruling anything out," Bellavia said. "If I feel compelled to serve, you know, I might if I feel compelled to serve in uniform. I'll get back in shape and grab a rifle and go back. You know, if I'm compelled to run for office I might do that, too. But at this point,I'm the property of the U.S. Army and my job is to get out there and share that story and get as many people from all backgrounds to make a decision to put their country before themselves and get that next generation ready for the fight."

Bellavia first ran for Congress in 2011, in the special election to replace Chris Lee after Lee resigned because of a shirtless post he made on Craigslist. While he eventually endorsed Jack Davis in that race, he began by knocking the Erie County GOP political machine that gave GLOW Tom Reynolds, Chris Lee, Jane Corwin, the GOP candidate that year, and eventually Chris Collins (who was county executive in Erie County at the time).

Kathy Hochul eventually won the election.

He ran again in the GOP primary in 2012, losing to Chris Collins.

Bellavia has since cited that loss as a reason to believe the people of NY-27 may not want him to run now.

That's another reason Caputo believes Bellavia needs to be convinced there is a strong grassroots effort to back a Bellavia campaign.

The effort includes a website, DraftBellavia.com.

"Our goal is to get 10,000 supporters organized by county all within the boundaries of the district," Caputo said. "We’re about to put up a device on the website to provide an opportunity to send an email to David to give him special encouragement, saying why you back David, what inspires you to do so. That's the kind of input a draft candidate needs. He needs to know how the community feels."

A big factor in Bellavia's decision, Caputo acknowledged, however, is what Collins decides to do.Publically, Collins, who is under federal indictment on insider trading charges, hasn't committed to a reelection campaign.He is going to faceat least one primary challenger -- Chris Jacobs -- and Caputo said Collins and Bellavia are friends. He doesn't believe Bellavia will want to run if Collins is determined to have his own name on the primary ballot.

President Donald Trump could have some say in the race and Caputo, who is friends with Trump and was the one who first introduced Collins to Trump, said Trump will be watching developments in the NY-27 closely. He may or may not weigh in with his own wishes at some point.

Another political factor to be weighed, Caputo said, is redistricting after the 2020 census.New York could lose another Congressional seat.The NY-27 as we know it could become far less of a conservative district if it takes in more of Buffalo or Rochester, or stay red if it picks up more of the Southern Tier.

"David is the best candidate of all those considering running for the NY-27 that preserves the district if the redistricting ax handle falls in Albany," Caputo said. "The NY-27 is less likely to be taken from a Medal of Honor recipient. The voters of the NY-27 have a rare opportunity to select the only Republican candidate who can repel a redistricting raiding party."

As for what kind of candidate and congressman Bellavia might be, Caputo said he believes Bellavia could be the kind of leader that helps heal some of the divisions in the country. While Bellavia has supported the president, his Hall of Heroes speech -- a big hit with conservatives that has drawn no fire from progressives -- was patriotic without being nationalist, Caputo acknowledged.It was anti-war while promising to rain destruction on any nations that attack the United States,and standing before the Army's top brass, Bellavia stood strong for loyalty, equality, and a free press.

After praising the work of combat journalist Michael Ware, and noting the important role journalists play in telling the story of the men and women who go to war, Bellavia said:

"This entire military is one cohesive dedicated force. And the threats to our nations -- they don't sleep. They're watching our every move. Iran. Russia. China. North Korea. ISIS. Al-Qaeda. They may be watching this right now.

"Our military should not be mistaken for our cable news gabfest show. We don't care what you look like. We don't care who you voted for, who you worship, what you worship, or who you love. It doesn't matter if your dad left you millions when he died or if you knew who your father was. We have been honed into a machine of lethal moving parts that you would be wise to avoid if you know what's good for you.

"We will not be intimidated. We will not back down. We've seen war. We don't want war. But if you want war with the United States of America, there's one thing I can promise you, so help me God, someone else will raise your sons and daughters.

"We fight so our children never have to. We fight for one day when our children and our enemies' children can discuss their differences without fear or loathing."

That tempered conservatism reflects Bellavia's beliefs, Caputo said.

"Most Western New York progressives, who are valuable voices in the discussion, in the public discussion, most of them know David," Caputo said. "Some of them are good friends because David made a point when he returned to Western New York to reach out to progressives he respects.

"The reflexively anti-conservative progressives might not support him but the open-minded, thinking progressives who have been in conversations with David for years now, understand the kind of person he is.

"If people approach this honestly, there is an agreement onboth sides that we're in trouble as a nation and we need to tone this down and become more united. David is the person who can start that conversation from our side."

Photo: File photo, Bellavia's 2012 campaign kickoff announcement.

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