Tag Archives: Collins

Captain Collins

9 Aug

Is the Collins Congressional office apparatus set up like the USS Enterprise? Maybe more like the Sea Org? Either way, Collins has a penchant for golf shirts – he famously sold them to county workers when he was County Executive, and encouraged teambuilding and other managementspeak by emblazoning them with the county seal and a Six Sigma logo.

America doesn’t do peerages, so Collins bought himself the next best thing – a Congressional seat, and dammit he’s the captain of that ship. He’s got the stripes to prove it.

Is it just an Adidas ad, or does it designate rank?

I can only assume that Grant and Loomis have similar white and red golf shirts with two stripes. Interns and lower-level staffers get one. It’s good to know your place.

HT DWICollins and Tom Dolina for the “FailBoat” image.

Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

19 Sep

I’m sort of sick of talking about Mitt Romney because, you know, Buffalo. But the Presidential campaign has become that car wreck you rubberneck on the 33. The three swing states Mitt has to win to have a chance of winning this thing are Ohio, Virginia and Florida, right? Well, a WaPo poll has Mitt trailing Obama -8 in Virginia.  Not only that, but Mitt’s entire campaign has boiled down to – hey, disillusioned Obama ’08 voters, not so excited anymore? Vote for Mitt!  That WaPo poll in Virginia reveals that 61% of likely Obama voters are “very enthusiastic” about the incumbent; only 45% of Romney voters are “very enthusiastic” .  It gets better, because the conservative commentariat’s hand-wringing has become so vigorous and anxious that they are warning that Romney isn’t just losing  a sure thing, but he’s taking the entire conservative movement down with him.  And his campaign is currently $11 million in debt

Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court remanded a case involving that state’s proposed voter ID/disenfranchisement law. A lower court had upheld the statute, but the state’s highest court demanded that the lower court 

… block the law unless Pennsylvania can prove it is currently providing “liberal access” to photo identification cards and that there “will be no voter disenfranchisement” on Election Day. The two dissenters opposed the voter ID law and wanted the Supreme Court to issue an injunction itself.

The ruling said there was a “disconnect” between what the law prescribes and how it was actually being implemented. It said an “ambitious effort” to implement identification procedures in a short timeframe “has by no means been seamless in light of the serious operational constraints faced by the executive branch.”

Voter ID is an answer to a question no one asked – actual cases of voter fraud are almost non-existent, and the actual effect of these statutes is to disenfranchise the poor and elderly – the 47% about whom Mr. Romney so famously spoke at a $50,000/plate fundraiser in Boca Raton in May. 

Incidentally, click here (part 1) and here (part 2) if you’d like to see the complete, uncensored Romney remarks – where he promises to take advantage of things like the storming of the Benghazi consulate, and that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is so intractable that, why bother? Just kick the can down the road. (That’s “leadership”, folks.) 

Romney went on Fox News yesterday and accused Obama of having a hidden video problem, trotting out a video of then-State Senator Obama in 1998 explaining that he likes the fact that America’s taxation policies are redistributive. McCain did it in 2008, and it went nowhere. Taxes are by their very nature redistributive – they take money through taxes to pay for other things, sometimes social welfare safety net programs. Society has deemed it more desirable to, e.g., provide food stamps rather than revert to a Dickensian nightmare of poor kids stealing pocketwatches for Mr. Fagin. 

No one knows why Romney wants to run against 1998 Obama instead of 2012 Obama, except that it allows him to paint Obama as a socialist. Because even though Obama’s policies are fundamentally centrist and comport with mainstream Democratic policy, because of his name and race, it’s quite easy to paint him as a foreign “other”. Honestly? It’s racist, and we shouldn’t pussyfoot around that fact. 

But if Mitt Romney really wants to compare and contrast videos 1990s videos with Barack Obama, then that’d be fun

Finally, part of the problem in the 27th Congressional District race is that Chris Collins is trying to hop on the Romney bandwagon, unaware of just how much he resembles the out-of-touch, unlikeable Presidential candidate. He has repeatedly stated that he supported the Ryan budget that would have turned Medicare into a complicated voucher program, costing seniors more, and that the Ryan budget in fact, “didn’t go far enough”. So, it must come as a worry to seniors because Collins says his first order of business would be to repeal Obamacare. But Obamacare is in the process of eliminating the Medicare “donut hole”. which saddles many seniors with huge bills for medication

Seniors whose annual drug costs surpassed $2,830 found themselves paying the rest of their bills in total until they hit an out-of-pocket limit of $4,550. At that point “catastrophic coverage” kicks in, and the government pays 95 percent of the costs.

Someday, we’ll reset the public debate over health insurance and come to the realization that expansion of Medicare to all Americans, with an efficient single-payer program so that people don’t ever see a bill for anything ever, so that their Medicare is paid for through payroll taxes (and is therefore not something for nothing),  and that the very rich retain their opportunity to seek cancer treatments in Switzerland (a country with a universal insurance mandate) complete with LearJet transportation. Someday we’ll reset the debate to question why we agonize over coverage gaps, why our employers spend so much money and effort choosing between crappy insurance plans that cost a fortune. Someday we’ll reset the debate to compare the actual cost of what we pay for costly, inefficient, bureaucrat-heavy private insurance versus the actual cost of what we’d all pay to expand Medicare to everybody. 
 
You know, the debate we’ve been having essentially since the end of World War II, and which every other industrialized, free market capitalist, pluralist nation-state has figured out generations ago. 

 

Siena NY-27: Collins Leads, Baseline Set

20 Aug

A week or so ago, Channel 2 and the Buffalo News commissioned Siena College’s Research Institute to survey 628 likely voters in the newly constituted NY-27. The headlines revealed that Collins leads Hochul by a very slim margin – within the 3.9% margin of error. (Collins: 47%, Hochul 45%, 7% unsure). This comes as no surprise to anyone, given the fact that the district is largely populated in Erie County’s suburbs, where Collins finds his base, and because of the heavy GOP advantage within that geography. 

The sample consists of 32% Democrats, 41% Republicans, 26% independent or other (not to be confused with the execrable, transactional “Independence Party”). 42% of the sample came from Erie County, with the balance from Niagara and GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wyoming). 

The poll’s crosstabs are here. Some takeaways

  1. Hochul’s favorables are much stronger than Collins among voters outside of Erie County. Her favorable/unfavorable/dnk in Erie Co. is 54/39/8; outside of the county it’s 50/29/20. Collins’ are 57/38/5 in Erie, and 41/30/29.  
  2. 54% of the survey respondents say they prefer a majority Republican congress. It’s a testament to the good job that Hochul’s doing that 45% would like to re-elect Hochul to Congress, versus 40% who wouldn’t, and 14% who have no clue. 
  3. President Obama isn’t too popular in the district, with 56% saying they have an unfavorable opinion of him.  Obama would lose the district 53-41 if the election was held during the survey period. Cuomo’s favorable rating is 66%.  
  4. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has a 47% favorability rating, 35% unfavorable, and 18% don’t know. Astonishingly, her Republican opponent’s ratings are 15% favorable, 14% unfavorable, and a whopping 71% don’t know. Nevertheless, when the survey asks voters whether they’d vote for Gilibrand “on the Democratic line”, or Long “on the Republican line”, the result is 49% Gillibrand, 40% Long, and 11% don’t know. 
  5. 50% of NY-27 voters would like the Bush tax cuts repealed for amounts earned in excess of $250,000. 47% oppose a repeal, and 4% were holding the phone backwards. 
  6. The top issues are jobs, the deficit, and health care, and voters prefer Collins by a slim margin on all three of those issues. Hochul is preferred on the Afghan war and education. Inexplicably, Medicare was not part of the questioning. 
  7. 46% of respondents think Hochul would do a better job than Collins in representing the district’s interests. 42% prefer Collins, while 12% like turtles. 

It’s a very tight race, and the coming TV ads are going to bombard us with information that’s carefully tailored to move the needle on these issues one way or another. The last time Siena gave Collins news that he was in a dead heat, he sent out current Comptroller candidate Stefan Mychajliw to denigrate Siena and its mother as “fictitious, inaccurate, and worthless”  to anyone would would listen (read: Bob McCarthy). 

Hochul’s big challenge? Corwin wasn’t anywhere near as well-known or well-regarded as Collins throughout the district. Whereas Corwin came across just as aloof and arrogant as Collins, perhaps there’s more than just a hint of sexism at play, since voters seem willing to accept much boorish behavior from the Six Sigma enthusiast than from Assemblywoman Corwin, whom Hochul obliterated in favorability with each passing day during the 2011 race. 

Hochul needs to get out in front of the Medicare issue, and she needs to start making Collins look like the bad guy he really is. I would be shocked if Collins himself didn’t give her the assist by doing or saying a string of absolutely horrible, head-shaking things. 

In May 2011, Hochul defeated Corwin 47 – 43%. What we’ve learned from the Corwin campaign and the Collins race against Poloncarz, when the Collins crew is faced with a credible and well-funded candidate, they get too cocky by half and screw it all up. With Collins’ recent declaration that 25 pages’ worth of his tax schedules and worksheets are too much for our feeble minds to handle, it looks like not a lot has changed. 

Erie County Health Commissioner on Breast & Prostate Cancer

3 Jul

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein saw what the previous County Executive had to say about how people no longer die from breast and prostate cancer and “some of the other things”, and today issued the following press release: 

BURSTEIN CALLS ATTENTION TO CANCER RATES IN ERIE COUNTY

Prostate, Breast Cancer Mortality Rates Indicate that Residents Still Suffer

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein today issued a statement regarding the incidence and mortality rates of prostate and breast cancer in Erie County, underlining their serious nature and the fact that people still suffer from these diseases. Former-Erie County Executive Chris Collins recently stated in an interview, “People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things.”[1]

“All types of cancer, including prostate and breast cancer, have significant mortality rates associated with them.  During 2005-2009, Erie County saw an annual average of 826 cases of female breast cancer, with an average of 176 deaths per year. For prostate cancer in the same period, the annual average was 930 cases, with an average of 103 deaths per year.”

“These numbers represent the sad reality that, despite advances in cancer treatments, people still die from these types of cancers.  It is imperative that people not only be aware of the potential risks from all types of cancers but get appropriately screened and checked as recommended by your doctor for breast and prostate cancer.”

For more information on Erie County cancer statistics, visit: http://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/cancer/registry/vol1/v1cerie.htm

For more information on the Erie County Health Department, visit:  http://www2.erie.gov/health/

(Image courtesy Tom Dolina)

Romney & Collins

30 Jun

Mitt Romney flew into Buffalo for as long as wealthy Massachusetts/Californian/Utahn multimillionaires can stand being in Buffalo – a couple of hours. 

His mission during his nose-holding tour of a flyover New York burg was to do something else he habitually does – collect a whole lot of money and pull it out of the WNY economy. Every loathsome corporate welfare recipient and electoral fusion enthusiast was in attendance, gladly plunking down thousands of dollars to ensure future favors, future corporate welfare, and to make sure the President of color is defeated. 

Among them was our own little local Napoleon, Chris I, Duke of Spaulding. Seen here eagerly double-clutching his wine goblet, with a look of absolute lurve in his eyes. What could they have been discussing? Our President’s birth certificate? The commoditization of labor? How well they have the plebes fooled? We’ll never know, but chances are, we’re going to get a lot of mileage from this simply bizarre image. 

UnInformed Attacks: Engage

21 Nov

Check out the comments to this Buffalo News article regarding changes that County Executive-elect Poloncarz would like to make to Collins’ 2012 county budget. It involves re-shuffling existing money to fund what Poloncarz considers to be his priorities, as opposed to Collins’. The uninformed are already accusing him of increasing taxes and spending, when neither is actually occurring.

Such is the state of information in western New York.

In a post on Facebook, Poloncarz wrote,

Although this is Mr. Collins’ budget and both he and the Legislature have final say on what is passed, I hope to have some if not all of these priorities included. Considering the Comptroller’s Office has already identified approximately $5 million in overbudgeting, I believe the roughly $2 million in restorations I suggested are modest. This is in no way additional spending, simply part of my promise to spend what we have more wisely and on the things residents/taxpayers need, want and deserve from County government.

Collins vs. Poloncarz: Final Weekend

4 Nov

1. The Siena Poll will be releasing updated numbers on Saturday. The hot rumor is that it will find Mark Poloncarz ahead of Chris Collins, likely by about 3 points. This would represent a 6-point swing in Poloncarz’s favor in just less than a month. Undecideds are deciding, and they’re breaking in favor of the Democrat.

2. Poloncarz’s final pre-election day fundraiser in Lackawanna Thursday night had a huge turnout of regular folks looking to elect only the second Democratic County Executive in Erie County history.

3. Governor Cuomo and Senator Schumer will be in town today, holding a GOTV rally with Poloncarz at the UAW hall on Wehrle. Look for Mayor Byron Brown to stun everyone and endorse Poloncarz over his ally Chris Collins for County Executive. Sure, it’ll be under duress but it’ll be good nonetheless.

4. In keeping with this week’s general theme of highlighting Poloncarz on the issues, you really need to read his comprehensive and informative look at Medicaid. While Collins heaps scorn and derision on the destitute, the working poor, and threatening to take away optical or hearing coverage for the most vulnerable in our society, most Medicaid expenditures go to pay for nursing home care for the elderly. Whereas Collins shuttered clinics for the poor, they cost $2.3 million per year to operate, yet brought in $3 million in revenue.

Aside from relying on recent changes in the ways in which counties can administer Medicaid, Poloncarz proposes doing something the Collins Administration hasn’t bothered with – aggressively going after Medicaid fraud.

…as County Executive Mark Poloncarz will implement a two-part plan to reduce the cost of Medicaid: (1) expose provider fraud contained in the system by using current County Social Service resources to create a new Erie County Medicaid Inspector General division to work with our partners in government and the private sector to identify the fraud and recover said fraudulent payments; and (2) reduce the cost of providing basic health care services to Medicaid recipients, especially women and children, through the creation of the Erie Community Healthcare Office

We pay $1.4 billion per year on Medicaid in Erie County. There is no reason why our efforts to find and end waste, fraud, and abuse shouldn’t be systematic and aggressive. Poloncarz plans to do just that. As for the healthcare office, it would be something like a managed care plan with an emphasis on preventative care.

In his first term, Mark will work toward the creation of the Erie Community Healthcare Office, which will serve as a point of entry for Medicaid patients. Such a clinic could be placed in the former premises of one of the previously closed health clinics, thereby saving taxpayers money by using currently owned County facilities. Instead of Medicaid recipients going to a hospital emergency room for basic health care services, recipients will go to the clinic. Instead of Medicaid patients ignoring basic checkups and preventative care, the County will monitor recipients‘ health care for better disease management, thereby leading to decreased costs. In the end, such a center would reduce program misuse, fraud and overuse while providing quality care, and, as was the case with the clinics which were previously closed, make money for the people of Erie
County. Moreover, as it has in Chemung County, it will save millions of dollars per year
by controlling costs presently beyond the control of county government.

Collins’ plan? More of the same, status quo thinking, and demonizing the poor. Not looking at solutions, but looking for people to blame and curse.

5. ArtVoice’s Geoff Kelly provides a comprehensive look at Collins’ four years – the ups, the downs, and the mehs. It’s a great trip down memory lane.

6. The right wing have been freaking out because the NY/NJ Port Authority Police Benevolent Association gave Poloncarz a $20,000 donation. Collins and his mouthpieces have been sounding ignorant dogwhistles,

“He’s a pawn of Jersey union bosses who are giving him tens of thousands of dollars in a last-minute push to take our government away from taxpayers,” Collins said. “They know he will give the special interests anything they want, regardless of the cost to taxpayers.”

The Police Benevolent Association is the union representing rank & file police officers working for a massive interstate port authority apparatus. It has no employees, control, influence, or business in Erie County. This is a case of a downstate union helping out an upstate Democrat in a tight race against a self-funded millionaire. Poloncarz would never be in a position to “give” this union anything at all, much less “anything they want”. Collins here looks like a petulant infant.

But it gets better.

The same guy who told a Montante family member to give him a “lapdance”, and referred to Sheldon Silver as the “anti-Christ”, has this to say about our great state of New York:

“Downstate is not a friend of upstate”

Speak for yourself, dummy. What kind of political “leader” governs through division like that? What good is it to score a cheap political point against Poloncarz by denigrating a very wealthy and influential part of the state?

On top of this – does Collins realize whom the Port Authority of NY/NJ PBA represent?

The heroes of September 11th. The cops who policed the Port Authority-owned World Trade Center, many of whom died valiantly trying to save their fellow citizens from death by terrorism.

The right wing freak-out over a donation from a union representing heroes is appalling, but not surprising – they only think of cops as heroes when convenient.

7. Lastly, check out today’s Buffalo News story about the travails of Dan Neaverth, Jr. Collins is accused of eliminating his county emergency services position – a job that was fully funded with federal dollars for post-9/11 emergency response – in order to placate Rural/Metro, a generous Collins supporter. Collins plays politics with everything, including your family’s health and safety.

Chris Collins: Disabled? (Redux)

3 Nov

Hopefully, you remember this post from July, which showed Chris Collins’s vehicle parked at a high school in Akron in a spot reserved for handicapped drivers. This was right before the Akron July 4th parade.

We have better images now – images showing Collins parking his car, exiting his car, and the fact that there were other, legal spots available.

This is scumbaggery at its most acute.

Here, Chris Collins is seen parking in a handicapped spot (Click to enlarge)

Here, Chris Collins exits his illegally parked vehicle. He seems able-bodied. Click to enlarge.

Here, Chris Collins bends down to check something on his illegally parked car. He seems able-bodied. Legal spots are visible. Click to enlarge.

Chris Collins walks from his illegally parked vehicle to join the Akron July 4th Parade. He seems able-bodied. Legal spots are visible. Click to enlarge. What a douche.

Mark Poloncarz’s campaign released this statement:

In keeping with his record of arrogance and disregard for the rules, Chris Collins presumably reached a new low in conduct recently when he parked his car in a handicapped parking spot at a local high school prior to a summer parade. The attached security photos clearly show Collins pulling into a spot in his car, easily identifiable by the “CE 3” license plate, after which Collins and his wife exit and walk to the parade staging area.* Collins parked in the handicapped spot despite the availability of legal parking at the event; some of that parking was even closer to the staging area.

“This is just another example of Chris Collins following his own set of rules and disregarding the laws that the rest of us live by,” said Peter Anderson, spokesman for the Poloncarz campaign. “This is blatant disrespect at its most despicable level. Collins should issue a public apology for his reprehensible behavior.”

Collins’ blatant flaunting of the law continued with an incident on October 7, reported in Artvoice, showing him once again parking illegally, this time in front of Ulrich’s Restaurant in Buffalo.**

“Chris Collins does not have a handicapped parking permit, nor does he have the courage to stand up and tell voters why he did this,” Anderson continued. “This is just another example of Chris Collins’ public pattern of disrespect. Voters are fed up with his arrogance and rule-breaking.”

Slominski backs Collins

15 Oct

Chris Collins was pleased to announce today that former county somethingorother, Alfreda Slominski, endorsed his re-election as County Executive.

Alfreda Slominski’s daughter, Mary Bass, works for the Erie Co. Dept of Real Property Tax & Finance, which Chris Collins controls.

So, Mary needn’t worry should Mr. Collins win. Yay!

County Executive Debate Takeaway

14 Oct

First of all, shame on WGRZ, WIVB, and WKBW for not interrupting their scary-good primetime schedule to fulfill their duty as FCC licensees of the public airwaves to broadcast the sole televised debate in this important election. Thanks to WNED for doing just that.  Channel 2 has the video up, but it’s broken up into multiple pieces, so I’m not going to embed them here.

Yes, I’m biased, but I can’t fathom a way in which someone can argue with a straight face that Chris Collins won the debate last night. The reason? Discipline. Knowing Mark Poloncarz, I know that, when it comes to facts and details, he is disciplined and knowledgable. He was prepared, he was confident, and he thought fast on his feet. By contrast, I don’t perceive Collins as being a disciplined campaigner. I think he disregarded the advice of the sycophants with whom he surrounds himself, and that he crossed the line into arrogance. He seemed unprepared, it was easy for Poloncarz to poke “[his] opponent” – whom he never named – with a stick and get a reaction.

Collins was the sweaty Nixon of 1960 with shifty eyes and a bad demeanor. But beyond the appearance, he was substantively disingenuous. The Twitter stream virtually howled with laughter when he alleged that he was “working with” the libraries.

Both campaign themes came out, though. Poloncarz portrayed Collins as out-of-touch with average, middle-class and poor western New Yorkers, as a guy who goes out of his way to vindictively harm the less fortunate and help his wealthy friends. Collins accused Poloncarz of “promising anything to anyone” and being beholden to the unions.

The big loser of the night, aside from Collins, was the Buffalo News’ Bob McCarthy. He was given about 3 questions, and every single one of them was about campaign finance. Seriously, is that all he cares about? Politics is about more than just how much a candidate raises, and from whom. It’s about ideas and governing. It’s about competence and the best interests of the people. Or, at least, it should be. McCarthy, however, sees politics as a sports event where a team is on offense or defense – winning or losing. He shouldn’t have been there to ask those questions, even if he did embarrass Collins with the Harris Beach / pay for play question, which Collins tried (and failed) to dodge no fewer than three times.

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Collins’ accusations that Poloncarz just wants to spend were, however, untrue. And Poloncarz had the facts right on the tip of his tongue to prove it. Collins, meanwhile, proved his “job creation” bona fides by listing all the county jobs he eliminated. Say what you want, but those people spent their salaries in the local economy and paid local taxes. Now? Not so much.

Collins tried to personally insult Poloncarz on two occasions. First, he accused Poloncarz of wanting to be a “czar”, not a county executive, because Poloncarz wants to hire a Deputy CE who will be in charge of job creation. I think his use of “czar” was because (a) it’s a conservative code word for “Obama” and “evil”; and (b) frankly, I think it was an unintentional ethnic slur. Poloncarz is Slavic, Czar is a Slavic construct of “Caesar”. Secondly, Collins referenced a video that Poloncarz took of the dilapidated restrooms at Wendt Beach to rebut Collins’ claim that the county-run parks are in great shape – he called it “creepy”. Here it is. It’s grainy, shaky, and a more mundane version of the Blair Witch Project, but it’s not “creepy”. Furthermore, Collins claims it looked as it did because it was undergoing construction. We’ll go check and see how that construction is coming along, K?

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Six Sigma? Poloncarz said the savings can’t be quantified – and the entire program is based on metrics. While Collins touted all the people he’s fired, Poloncarz said that some agencies are too big, some are too small, and we have to aim for efficient and responsive government, not mere firings.

Unfortunately, no one asked – and no one talked – about regionalism.

Here are some real-time reactions / interpretations of what happened:

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This was the sole televised debate, and Poloncarz had been asking for three.  Collins was reluctant to even do this one – this was supposed to be a radio debate. The League of Women Voters and WNED figured that they might as well televise it, and I’m told Collins’ people went ballistic. Collins doesn’t come across well. He’s not a people person. We now know why he and the Lees and Corwins of the world don’t do retail politicking and rely instead on money, speeches, TV ads, and Limbaughesque soundbites – they suck at connecting with people. It’s hard to do, after all, when you sequester your life among other millionaires, sharing your millionaire problems with your million-heir friends. In the end, the League basically told Collins’ people that they were going to hold the debate, and Collins can either participate, or Poloncarz will get a free hour of TV.

I don’t honestly recall whether Collins and Keane held a televised debate, and I haven’t checked the archives to see. If it existed, it wasn’t memorable. Keane was an abominable, horrible candidate. Collins was the fresh face with the “like a business” bill of goods. See how Corwin crumbled against Hochul, despite all her money? These people cannot win when given a credible challenge. Poloncarz can connect with regular people – union workers, middle-class – people who work for a living and live paycheck to paycheck.  People who see that their lives are harder and less hopeful than previous generations’. People who rely on county services for a good quality of life. Or for healthcare. Or for food. Or a roof over their head.  Make no mistake – that Siena poll was accurate. It may not have predicted turnout, which the Republicans will try and suppress in the city and lift in some suburbs, but it accurate reflects how likely voters think about the candidates and the issues. Poloncarz is putting up a great fight, and he’s working hard. Last night, he showed a wider audience who he is, and Collins revealed who he is.

Three weeks to go. Three weeks to victory?