Collins will face Democratic Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray in November in a district President Donald Trump won by 24 points in 2016. Collins’ recent indictment for charges relating to insider trading have shaken up the race. Collins initially said he would run for re-election, but reversed course under pressure from local and national party leaders.
Local GOP leaders had for several weeks been looking for a way to replace Collins with another Republican candidate on the ballot. The news Monday signals that they were not able to find a viable path to replace Collins.
Collins’ campaign and a spokesman for the Erie County GOP Committee, the largest county in the district, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Leaders had been exploring removing Collins from the ballot by having him run for another local office in the area. Per New York State law, the only other ways Collins could be removed is if he moves out of state or if he dies. Any avenue to remove Collins likely would have faced a legal challenge from Democrats.
McMurray responded with a statement Monday, saying, "Well it's nice to finally know who I'm running against."
McMurray said voters would not have allowed party leaders to switch Collins out with another candidate, and said he is seeing an "incredible grassroots movement" in the district.
"Every day when I’m out meeting voters, we talk about affordable, accessible healthcare for all, defending Social Security, investing in our infrastructure, protecting our farms," McMurray said. "But in this region, we’re still always talking about corruption. Voters have a chance to end that once and for all in NY-27 and I’m excited for the next 50 days.”
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Meredith Kelly said in a statement that the development meant "the stakes just got a whole lot higher on November 6th." Kelly noted two indicted Republicans will be on the ballot in November, a reference to California GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter who is facing charges relating to misuse of campaign funds.
Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Lean Republican.