In-Depth: Rep. Chris Collins Suspends Congressional Re-Election Campaign

AUDIO: Hear reaction from multiple 'players' in the NY27 political drama

August 11, 2018 - 10:14 am

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Rep. Chris Collins has decided to suspend his Congressional re-election campaign and continue to serve through the end of his term.  Collins released a statement Saturday morning.

Collins was indicted by a federal grand jury on fraud charges and for lying to the FBI on Wednesday.

Erie County Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy is fielding calls from more than a dozen candidates interested in running for NY 27 and expects to hear from even more before GOP chairmen in the district meet to decide who will get the party's nod.

Among the candidates throwing their names into the mix to replace Collins in November includes Stefan Mychajliw, who released the following statement on Saturday morning.

This has been a sad and difficult week for NY27.  I respect Congressman Collins' decision and I thank him for his decade of public service and I wish him and his family the best during the difficult days ahead.
As a proud Republican and conservative supporter of President Trump, I cannot stand by and let this critical Congressional seat fall into the hands of a radical left wing candidate who will be a vote to impeach President Trump.

Radical Nate McMurray spent his career fighting for the kind of global, free trade agreements that have sent thousands of good paying jobs in the 27th district to China and Korea.  We’ve seen what those deals have cost us and we simply can’t afford them anymore.

McMurray’s radical views would do grave damage to our district.  We cannot let that happen, and that’s why I will work to earn the support of the county chairs for the Republican Nomination for the 27th Congressional District.

Other names under consideration according to WGRZ's Scott Levin include Erie County Legislators Lynne Dixon and Ed Rath, State Senators Chris Jacobs, Mike Ranzenhofer, and Patrick Gallivan, and State Assemblymen David DiPietro and Ray Walter. David Bellavia told WBEN that he would also serve if the call came his way.



Wednesday's indictment charges Collins and two others, including his son, with conspiracy, wire fraud and other counts.

Prosecutors say the charges relate to a scheme to gain insider information about a biotechnology company headquartered in Sydney, Australia, with offices in Auckland, New Zealand.

It is unclear whether Collins' name can be removed from the November ballot at this point and whether Republican Party officials will be able to nominate another candidate for the seat.

Under New York state election law, Collins' name could be taken off the ballot under certain narrowly defined circumstances that include death, disqualification or being nominated for a different office such as a county clerkship.

Jessica Proud, a spokeswoman for the New York state Republican Party, said party officials are weighing their options. She said no decision has been made about a possible replacement for Collins on the ballot — if they are able to replace him.

Stefan Mychajliw, the Erie County comptroller, released a statement putting his name forward for the ballot spot and said he hoped to earn the support of county Republican officials in the district.

A spokesman for Nate McMurray, the Democrat in the race, said McMurray planned a news conference later Saturday.

McMurray, the town supervisor of Grand Island, New York, said after Collins' indictment that he took "no joy in the terrible news" of his rival's arrest.

McMurray said earlier this week that tens of thousands of dollars were been donated to his campaign in the 24 hours after Collins' arrest and that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reached out to partner with McMurray's team.

The district spans an area between the Rochester and Buffalo suburbs and is considering the most Republican-leaning district in New York. The race had not been considered competitive by many observers, including those predicting a "blue wave" that gives Democrats control of the House.

The area backed President Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by nearly 25 percentage points in 2016, when Collins beat his Democratic challenger by more than 2-1.

Collins was an early supporter of Trump's presidential campaign and has been one of Trump's most ardent defenders. In his statement Saturday, Collins warned of Democrats winning the House in the midterm elections "and then launching impeachment proceedings against President Trump."

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