Chris Collins to Remain on November Ballot

WATCH: Congressman Changes Course in NY27 Race to Replace

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Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - Chris Collins will remain on the ballot in New York's 27th Congressional District despite facing charges related to insider trading.

The news was announced by Erie County Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy on Monday.

"We definitely had a crystal clear avenue to replace Chris Collins on the ballot," Langworthy said. "This comes as a petty great surprise to all of us who have worked very hard... to have the rug pulled out from under us."

Collins' decision came at the advice of his legal team, who were not supportive of removing his name from the ballot. Langworthy said Collins was cooperating with efforts to move off the ballot up until late last week.

"It's no longer in the best interest of his legal team and legal defense is what I am told is the reason he is choosing to remain on the ballot," Langworthy said.

"I have to respect his decision."

Langworthy said that Collins will control how his campaign moves forward, and assumes he will use his resources to run a full campaign. He added the County GOP Committee will have little role in the campaign.

The Erie County GOP Chair said that the race was not a competitive one before the Collins indictment, but now is, especially with Collins keeping his name on the ballot. Collins' Democrat challenger, Nathan McMurray, was cutting the ribbon on a new campaign headquarters with the head of the Democratic National Committee at the time the news that Collins would stay on broke.

"The notion that he would get off the ballot and run for something that he wasn't going to serve on, that's fraudulent behavior," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez. "What I'm excited about is the voters couldn't have a clearer contrast."

Langworthy and other County Republican chairs were scheduled to meet Tuesday night in Albany, and still plan to do so to discuss the development. 

Mark Braden, issued this statement: “Because of the protracted and uncertain nature of any legal effort to replace Congressman Collins we do not see a path allowing Congressman Collins to be replaced on the ballot.”

Meantime, Nate McMurray, the Democratic challenger, was opening his campaign headquarters when he learned the news. "We knew who this man was. That's why there was so much opposition to him before. But nonetheless we're going to endorse this man, so we're fighting corruption," says McMurray.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez was in town. "The notion he would get off the ballot and run for something he wouldn't serve was fraudulent behavior, but not surprising behavior. What I'm excited about is voters have a clearer contrast between Nate McMurray and Chris Collins," says Perez. "The culture of corruption in Washington under this president is unprecedented in our history. We need guardrails in Washington, and we have an opportunity in Nate, in installing those guardrails," adding he's confident the Democrats can win back the House. 

Erie County Democratic Party Chairman Jeremy Zellner says the GOP is stuck with Collins. "They've pushed others off the ballot to clear the way for him. They tried to cut deals with other officials to leave office so they can hoist Collins on other communities and it didn't work because the people said no," says Zellner. 

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