Nate McMurray is doubling down on his campaign following the resignation of Rep. Chris Collins, expressing confidence he can win Collins’ heavily Republican 27th Congressional District as a Democrat.
McMurray, who came within about 1,000 votes of defeating Collins last year, held a press conference outside U.S. District Court in downtown Buffalo Tuesday just after Collins’ resignation letter was read on the House floor and just a few hours before Collins pleaded guilty to insider trading charges.
Surrounded by a couple dozen supporters, McMurray stated he still has the support of Republicans who crossed party lines to vote for him last year.
“They’re back and they know I’ll have their back,” he said.
McMurray, who is Grand Island town supervisor, lost by less than 1% of the vote last November while Collins’ insider trading arrest loomed over the incumbent Republican Congressman’s campaign.
McMurray said he can win over Republican voters again, despite the fact his new Republican opponents won’t carry the same baggage as Collins.
He criticized them for either standing behind Collins or remaining silent after last year’s arrest, revealing what his strategy may be to appeal to Republican voters.
“They are part of the mess that he created, and we all know that. People here aren’t dumb,” McMurray said. “So I’m going to fight against them and going to hold them accountable for putting Chris Collins up on that pedestal.”
Declared Republican challengers thus far include state Senators Chris Jacobs and Robert Ortt, as well as attorney Beth Parlato. David Bellavia, a Medal of Honor recipient who challenged Collins in the Republican primary in 2012, may also consider running.
Candidates are likely to face off in a special election for Collins’ former seat, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo told WAMC in Albany Tuesday he plans to call for a special election sooner rather than later.
In a special election, party leaders would likely choose their own nominees as opposed to holding a primary.
McMurray is the only publicly declared Democrat thus far, but Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner told WBFO he’s already been approached by other potential candidates and the party hasn’t made any decisions.
Zellner stressed Democrats are currently only focused on securing reelection for Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz over Republican challenger Lynne Dixon on Nov. 5.
“We’re not going to be distracted at all,” he said. “The day after the election changes everything.”
McMurray, who is campaigning on job creation, access to health care and fighting corruption, shot down doubts he can’t win a red district.
“For those who think that we don’t have a chance, I ask you to look at last year and what happened,” he said. “Look at the support that we had, look at those numbers of knocked doors, look at the people who looked beyond party and radio propaganda and nonsense to say, ‘I believe in Nate.’”