Updated 08/10/2012 10:24 PM
Political candidates fight about MMA
Hear the name Assemblyman Bob Reilly and you might think MMA. In fact, his staunch opposition to legalizing the sport has stirred up enough controversy about the issue that candidates seeking to take his seat this fall are talking about it, too. Our Erin Vannella reports.
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CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. -- "I think it's time that New York State join 48 other states in the country in legalizing one of the fastest growing sports in the country," said Democratic candidate for the 110th Assembly District Tim Nichols.
After eight years as Assemblyman Bob Reilly's chief of staff, Nichols steps into the campaign trail and swings back in support of MMA.
"I did not think it was appropriate for me to comment as a staff person at the time what my position on mixed martial arts was at the time when my employer was the leading opponent of legalizing it in New York State," said Nichols. "It wasn't my place. It is now."
Nichols is one of four democrats fighting for Reilly's 110th district seat this fall. The other three don't want the sport to go pro.
"The issue I have with this is, are we looking at the safety of the participants," said Democratic candidate for the 110th Assembly District Joe Landry.
"I don't think enough is being done to protect the athletes," said Democratic candidate for the 110th Assembly District Kevin Frazier. "I'm adamantly opposed to MMA in its current form."
"I don't think that's the most important issue facing the citizens of the 110th assembly district or the citizens of this state," said Democratic candidate for the 110th Assembly District Phil Steck.
All three say they'd rather put taxes and education, health care and jobs first and that MMA, though central to Reilly's agenda, isn't top priority in theirs.
"I don't think mixed martial arts is in the forefront of people's minds, at least when I go door to door," said Steck. "So let's put the political theater aside and talk about the serious issues facing the state."
But Nichols says the fight is bigger than the cage and the cost of regulation.
"I think you have to look at the entire industry both small and large and what that will mean to local economies and small business people," said Nichols.