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Nate McMurray

November 26, 2018 - 5:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nate McMurray, NY-27, news.

Statement released by Nate McMurray:

Good afternoon,
 
Nearly all the votes have been counted and Chris Collins will be returning to Washington to represent the people of New York’s 27th Congressional District. After discussing the matter thoroughly with counsel and weighing our options, we believe it’s in the best interest of this community to end this chapter and move on to the next.
 
I offer Mr. Collins my concession.
 
It was a hard decision. Part of me wants to fight. I can’t just smile and pretend this was all fair. And so my concession comes with a warning. Mr. Collins, you won by the slimmest of margins (less than half a percent), in a district designed to ensure anyone with an “R” next to their name, even an indicted criminal, could win a decisive victory.
 
Still, you almost lost. To win you had to resort to extreme measures—lying about me and my family, hiding from the media and the people you represent, and refusing to face me in the time-honored tradition of a public debate. Your strategy was by your own admission cowardice and partisan politics.
 
So I will be watching. We will all be watching. We are not going anywhere.
Together, with countless supporters across this district and throughout the country, we built something special. We ignored the naysayers and fought like hell for what we believed in.
 
We learned that at the grassroots level, the people have the power to break the political machine when we work together. We had the largest partisan swing of any first-time state or federal candidate in the country and one of the largest swings period. Together we set the foundation for incredible things to come.
 
We built this movement from the ground up via potlucks and picnics. I’m proud that we did this with little to no outside support. We raised over $1.2M in primarily grassroots donations in just over 3 months. Our campaign funds came from mechanics and farmers, school teachers, office workers, students, and senior citizens. There are few feelings more humbling than to have someone squeeze your hand at a campaign appearance, and tell you, “I just donated five dollars to your election. It’s all I can afford.”
 
For the first time in a very long time, the people of the 27th District felt that their voice was heard and that their vote mattered. My heart will not permit me to abandon those wonderful people.
  
So today, I am proudly announcing that I am forming an organization called Fight Like Hell. Fight Like Hell will be a voice for those thousands of Western New Yorkers who feel excluded, disenfranchised, and apathetic -- those who continue to reach out and ask what they can do, what’s next.
 
We want to take what we’ve learned and the tools and resources we’ve gathered and pay them forward by empowering more good people to run for office. I want more people to understand who their local leaders are (and how they can hold them accountable). Among other things, we will host Town Halls where residents will have a chance to share their voice, whether or not your Congressman thinks it’s important for you to do so or continues to hide
  
Beyond that. Mr. Collins' future in Washington remains murky. He says that he will finish his term, but as we know, Mr. Collins is not the best at keeping promises. Let me say it here first: when the time is right, I will run for office again.
  
I have met a lot of disappointed people since the election. I have felt a great deal of sadness. But be of good cheer. We are not what Mr. Collins represents. And we are not what the opportunistic politicians and pundits who supported him represent.
 
We ARE what those thousands of folks who stood up to him by standing on corners, writing postcards, and knocking doors in the cold represent. We ARE are what those Republicans who took a chance on a lanky Democrat represent. We ARE what the folks who are already gearing up for the next fight represent. Indeed, we ARE what America represents. We are hope, we are kindness, we are decency, and integrity.
 
Sure, we lost. But if we lost with integrity and fighting for Unions, the middle class, and healthcare for every American, so be it.
 
Stay strong. Protect it from the wind. But let that light glow.
 
With love, gratitude, and joy,
 
Nate

November 21, 2018 - 2:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, Nate McMurray, notify.

Two weeks after election day, with most of the outstanding ballots in the NY-27 counted, challenger Nate McMurray has pulled within 1,384 votes of Rep. Chris Collins but it's unlikely there are enough ballots left to be counted for McMurray to overtake the Federally indicted congressman.

McMurray has not conceded the race, though Collins has declared victory.

In Genesee County, in the count of provisional, military, absentee and emergency ballots, McMurray gained 71 votes on Collins, making the split 11,471 for Collins to 8,705 for McMurray. Third-party candidate Larry Piegza finished with 627 votes.

According to the McMurray campaign, and multiple other news reports, McMurray gained votes in nearly every, if not every, county in the district since election day two weeks ago.

In a statement this afternoon, McMurray thanked his supporters and vowed to continue the fight, claiming potential irregularities. He said he and his attorneys are discussing the situation and will decide what to do after Thanksgiving.

In election law in other states, when the margin separating two candidates is less than 1 percent, an automatic recount is required or a candidate can request a recount. New York law provides no mechanism for requiring a recount.

"We have seen extensive irregularities in the voting process, especially pertaining to absentee ballots, and there are issues that need to be addressed, not only for this election but for all elections in the future to ensure voters are not disenfranchised and that every voice is heard," McMurray said.

The Collins campaign has not sent a statement about the outcome of the election to The Batavian.

In Genesee County, the recount is a bipartisan affair, overseen by Richard Siebert for the Republicans and Lorie Longhany for the Democrats, with observers from both parties watching the entire process, from ballots being opened to votes being tabulated.

In Erie County, which is where McMurray picked up most of his additional votes to close the gap, which was 2,241 votes districtwide when Erie County started its vote count yesterday morning, Republican Commissioner Ralph M. Mohr told the Buffalo News the process there is similar to the process locally.

From the Buffalo News:

The Tuesday process began around 10 a.m. in a stark room at the Board of Elections on West Eagle Street. Officials first ran through a scanner the emergency ballots that somehow were jammed or encountered other problems in the machines on Election Day.

Then Mohr explained the process by which a bipartisan team from the board would open the ballots and prepare them for machine scanning. Officials lined up approximately 16 workers at carefully staged positions on both sides of a long table, with Democrats observing Republicans and vice versa.

“We have here a bipartisan team,” Mohr explained to a crowd of campaign observers and reporters, asking Democrats and Republicans assigned to the counting table to raise their hands.

Erie County officials counted 5,588 absentee ballots, 1,454 affidavit ballots, and 433 emergency ballots, with McMurray picking up 3,279 votes and Collins 2,422.  There are more ballots to count but McMurray would need nearly all of the remaining his ballots to go his way in order to pull out a victory and that is statistically improbable.

Collins is expected to be sworn in for his fourth term in January even though he faces an ongoing investigation by the House Ethics Committee, will be in the minority party, serve on committees, and awaits a Federal trial on charges that he exchanged in securities fraud, wire fraud, and lied to the FBI about his role in an alleged scheme to illegally use corporate insider information to assist family and friends in dumping stock they owned in Innate Therapeutics. Collins served as a member of the board of directors of the Austrailian biotech company.

He was also once the company's second-largest shareholder but in a recent disclosure by the company, Collins isn't even listed among the top 20 shareholders.

At one time, Collins reportedly held 3.8 million shares of the company's stock.  

By law, members of Congress must disclose their stock trades within 30 days of the transaction.

On June 20, Collins sold between $15,000 and $50,000 shares of stock (as specific as he's required to be on the disclosure form).

On that date, Innate was trading at 28 cents a share.  If he sold $50,000 worth of shares, he sold less than 180,000 shares. It's unclear when and how he disposed of his other outstanding shares (which would have been enough to keep in the top 20 shareholders of Innate if he retained the shares).

In a news report about the stock disclosure, his campaign spokeswoman called these facts "fake news."

Collins is expected to go on trial for his insider trading charges in February 2020. He vows to beat the charges and continue to serve in Congress.

November 15, 2018 - 12:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, Nate McMurray, news.

Press release:

Nate McMurray has issued the following statement after Congressional Republicans, apparently at the request of indicted Chris Collins, blocked McMurray from attending the New Member Orientation today.

"It is customary for candidates in close races to attend New Member Orientations so that they are best prepared to serve in the event that they win. After traveling to Washington to train alongside my peers, including others in contested races, I was informed that Rep. Gregg Harper, chairman of the Committee on House Administration, had personally denied my participation even after House Democratic leadership continued to advocate on my behalf.

"I am very disappointed by Congressional Republicans catering to Chris Collins’ demands, who is under indictment on 11 felony counts and spent his campaign lying and hiding from his constituents. I came to D.C. to equip myself to hit the ground running and better serve the people of Western New York once the results are official.

"It is shameful that Collins is continuing his efforts to diminish the will of the voters and call this race before all votes have been counted. As usual, he is actively undermining the future of this district and our country. I am grateful to Democrats from the House Administration Committee for having me at the Democratic events during the orientation and offering to come to the district to provide me and my team with all of the training, support and information we will need when we win.”

November 12, 2018 - 2:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nate McMurray, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Today we observe Veterans Day, a day when we honor the sacrifices of the men and women of our armed services who have given so much to defend our democracy, keep our nation free and make our world a safer place for everyone.

It is a day worthy of discussing our elections and the importance of counting every vote, especially those of our service members who voted absentee.

As of now, several counties have begun the official canvass of the voting machines, but the vast majority remain uncounted. Tuesday is the deadline for absentee ballots to arrive, and most of the absentee ballots will be counted on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

Beyond the official canvass and counting of absentee ballots, there are a number of affidavit ballots that may or may not be valid. All of these will be duly considered in the coming days until the Boards of Elections are ready to provide final official results.

All of the Boards remain enjoined by Court Order from finalizing the results until all ballots are counted. This is a slow process, but a necessary one. 

There are multiple races across the state facing similar delays in determining the outcome, some with Democrats leading in the unofficial results, some with Republicans leading. I believe that in all of these, every vote must be counted. In those races, as in ours, the election isn’t over until all the ballots are counted.  

NOTE: McMurray also shared this on Twitter this afternoon: "TOMORROW: As the count goes on, I’m headed to DC! It’s new member orientation and some friendly members of Congress invited me down."

November 7, 2018 - 5:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, chris collins, Nate McMurray, news.

Press release:

Nate McMurray has issued the following statement on yesterday’s too-close-to-call results in his campaign for US Congress in NY-27.

“When we started this race, the insiders and pundits said we didn’t have a chance. But we gave the voters a better choice, and by earning support from Republicans, Independents and Democrats alike, we’re beating the odds and we won’t stop until the official results are confirmed. We need to make sure every voice and every vote in this region is heard and counted.

“This isn’t even yet a recount. We haven't even had an official count yet. In our democracy, every single vote matters. There are over 18,000 votes that have not yet been counted, between absentee, emergency, and affidavit ballots. If this were Election Day, we would still be holding tight. We will continue to count each and every ballot to ensure every voter in this district is heard.

“With only 2,800 votes separating us, this race is too close to call. There are too many voters who have not yet had their say. We are fighting to make sure every vote is counted because every vote counts.

“I believe that the hardworking families of this district are ready to reject the stale and ineffective tactics of partisanship politics, put country before party, and turn the page from Chris Collins’ self-serving chapter in our region’s history. We must finish counting ballots so we can finally get to work to make Washington and fixing a rigged system that both Republicans and Democrats agree is hopelessly broken.

“That starts with me, a Democrat, talking to you, my voters who are Republicans and Democrats and independents, about what we can do to solve the real problems our nation faces. We need to create secure borders, not with grandstanding and rhetoric, but with real immigration reforms that protect our sovereignty, but also makes sure our farmers have the workforce they need to succeed. It means protecting Social Security and Medicare, so Americans get the benefits they’ve been paying for their entire lives.

"It means defending the Second Amendment while passing common-sense reforms like universal background checks to keep guns away from terrorists and criminals. It means bringing good jobs back to our region, investing in infrastructure and protecting our farmers. It means standing strong against corruption in both parties to give taxpayers honest leadership they can trust.

“This isn’t over yet. We’re still fighting like hell."

November 7, 2018 - 12:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in election, NY-27, batavia, news, notify, chris collins, Nate McMurray.

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As Nate McMurray appeared on TV just after 11 o'clock tonight, a couple of local Democrats at Center Street Smoke House for election night noticed McMurray didn't look happy.

The room turned glum.

"Don't concede, Nate," one of them said.

That's was what McMurray was about to do.

With 94 percent of the precincts reporting in the New York 27th Congressional District, Rep. Chris Collins held at 2,697 vote lead, a 49.5 to 48.4 percent margin.

In Genesee County, Collins won with 2,837 more votes, 53.8 percent to 39.91 percent, or 10,986 votes to 8,149.

These are unofficial vote totals, not yet certified and do not include absentee ballots.

Reform Party candidate Larry Piegza picked up 598 votes locally, or 2.93 percent, which was fewer votes than the 651 ballot line for the 27th blank.

McMurray did beat Collins in the City of Batavia, 2,219 votes to 1,821.

The NY-27 is a 22-point Republican advantage and McMurray, a Democrat who is town supervisor in Grand Island, still managed to make it a close race, primarily because Collins has spent much of the past year under the cloud of an ethics investigation and was arrested Aug. 8 on federal charges related to alleged insider trading. 

Also in Genesee County, the controversial ballot measure to stagger and extend terms in office members of the County Legislature passed 9,508 votes to 8,981.

In contested races, Barbara Czworka won the Town of Bethany Highway Superintendent election over Michael T. Adams, 440 votes to 289 votes. For Town of Alexander Justice, Mark Anderson beat Nicholas Falcone 775 to 757. (CORRECTION: This was a vote-for-two election. Anderson and Falcone both ran unopposed, not against each other.)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not fare well among Genesee County voters, getting only 4,982 votes to 13,397 for Marc Molinaro. Larry Sharpe received 1,201 votes locally. Howie Hawkins got 252 and Stephanie Minor, 188.

UPDATE 12:28 a.m.: McMurray issued the following statement:

"While tonight's results are disheartening, my fight for a better Western New York and a better United States will not end. This is my home, and I believe we deserve better than a Congressman under indictment and out on bail, but I also respect the will of the voters, and they have spoken. This campaign was a part of a movement to fight for the rights and leadership that we deserve as Americans. Tonight’s result is a setback, but we will never give up.”

UPDATE 12:53 a.m.: McMurray just issued a new statement demanding a recount:

"After examining the numbers, the margin is 1 percent and the will of the voters must be heard. We are demanding a recount. Mr. Collins is going to need another set of lawyers.”

We'll have more election coverage sometime tomorrow.

Top photo: Democrats watch Nate McMurray's concession speech at Center Street.

November 5, 2018 - 9:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, Nate McMurray, news, notify.

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In the past three weeks, Rep. Chris Collins has made eight campaign stops, according to his Twitter feed, and none of them have been in Genesee County.

His opponent, Nate McMurray, made eight stops in just two days, including one Sunday morning at Tim Hortons in Batavia.

"I feel we're going to win," McMurray said. "I mean, I had people in Albion and Medina yesterday running up to me or stopping cars because they recognized me. I never had that experience in my life."

Whether McMurray's prediction of victory is confidence or overconfidence, we won't know until late Tuesday night but McMurray said he also feels the weight of the world when he thinks about winning. He knows it will mean that a lot of Republicans in this bright red district put their faith in him.

"I had Republicans coming up to me saying 'we believe you, do not let me down,' " McMurray said. "I could see they were serious, like, 'we've been let down, don't let me down,' and I'm like 'I'm not lying. This is who I am. I'm going to fight for you and I'm going to learn from you.' And I think honestly, I'm not trying to be glib, but I have learned from the people of this region and I'm humbled by it."

McMurray, who told reporters he's lost 30 pounds since the campaign started, has made an issue of the tribalism and cynicism that has gripped American politics and has vowed to break down those barriers. That, too, will create a responsibility for him if he wins, he said.

"I think a lot of people are so beaten down by politics and they become so pessimistic and just so dismissive of their political leadership," McMurray said. "For whatever reason, they're starting to feel hope in me in this campaign and I feel a great duty towards them, and on both sides of the aisle.

"Obviously, as a Democrat running here, I'm going to have a bigger burden to prove to Republicans that they can trust me and they can vote for me again."

He said he has run his campaign with little to no Democratic party input or influence and very little help, and vowed that if he won he would not buckle to pressure from Democratic leaders to conform to their views of the world.  

The latest polls show the race a toss-up that will come down to the wire. The state just released updated registration numbers for the NY-27 that may put a little wind behind McMurray's sails. The Democrats registered 1,848 voters compared to only 467 for Republicans.

Previously: Profile: Nate McMurray, Democratic capitalist, bucking the trend of his party

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November 2, 2018 - 5:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, Nate McMurray, batavia, news.

Press release:

Nate McMurray, Democrat and Working Families Party candidate in NY-27, will be visiting all eight counties this weekend as a part of his grassroots Get Out the Vote effort to talk to as many voters as possible across the district. He will travel to the counties in the following order: Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Ontario, Monroe, Livingston, Wyoming. The tour will end with a GOTV rally with Talia Shire, an Oscar-nominated actress of two of the most successful movie franchises in history, the "Rocky" and "Godfather" sagas, at the campaign’s headquarters in Hamburg.

McMurray will be at Tim Hortons, 20 Main St., Batavia at 8:45 a.m., Sunday, for 30 minutes.

November 1, 2018 - 11:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, Nate McMurray, news.

Press release:

Nate McMurray, Democrat and Working Families Party candidate for Congress in NY-27, today pledged to vote against any cuts to Medicare and Social Security once he is elected.

"Social Security and Medicare are vitally important to so many folks, who now live in fear that these programs will be cut by politicians in Washington," McMurray said. "My opponent voted to create the deficit that is now being used as a justification for these cuts; he was wrong then, and he’s wrong now if he refuses to take this pledge.

"These are programs that seniors have paid into their entire lives and benefits they have earned. But Chris Collins lacks the independence to stand up for our seniors, and the integrity to admit that he was wrong."

McMurray has made Social Security and healthcare key components of his campaign, a stark contrast to indicted incumbent Chris Collins who has a 0 percent rating from the Alliance for Retired Americans.

McMurray believes Social Security and Medicare are earned benefits, and he notes that many senior citizens of Western New York and across the country depend on them to survive. He believes in protecting coverage for preexisting conditions and making healthcare accessible to all Americans.

October 31, 2018 - 10:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, Nate McMurray.

Press release:

For the second time in the past year, indicted incumbent Chris Collins has ducked high school student who want to hear from their representative. Nate McMurray, Democrat and Working Families Party candidate who is challenging Collins in NY-27, condemned Collins for his refusal to engage with high school students and failure to participate in any debates with less than a week before the election.

"It says a lot about a guy if he’s too scared to talk to high school students, and it makes it even worse when it’s his job to listen to the people he represents,” McMurray said. “In the spring, it was Clarence students wanting to talk about gun violence in schools.

Today, it was St. Joe’s students who have proudly hosted debates for the last 30 years. These aren’t political operatives or insiders, they’re young people who will be the future of our country and who just want to have a voice in the discussion.”

In April, Collins declined an invitation to a “Town Hall for Our Lives” hosted by Clarence High School students, calling the students “radical partisans.”

Today, St. Joe’s learned that Collins planned to skip the debate from a local radio broadcast. McMurray attended both events and plans to meet with Clarence High School students on Friday. He will also be at the forum hosted by the League of Women Voters.

"It’s typical of millionaires like Collins to look down on voters like us, and he just doesn’t have the backbone or character to talk with students or debate. Eleven felony counts, out on bail and a flight risk, and he just makes himself more of an embarrassment to our community with his cowardice. He’s got one more chance today, and then it’s three strikes and he’s out -- of office!”

October 29, 2018 - 2:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, Nate McMurray, news.

Press release:

Nate McMurray, Democrat and Working Families Party candidate, today released a new poll showing that he is ahead by 4 points, with 47 percent of the respondents saying they will support McMurray against indicted incumbent Chris Collins.

Since the indictment in early August, McMurray has surged in the polls, earned endorsements from both the Buffalo News and conservative New York Post, and the race has been added to the DCCC’s “Red to Blue” list.

"The people of Western New York are done with the embarrassment Chris Collins has brought on our region," McMurray said. "Republicans, Democrats and independents know that it’s time to put country before party and reject a Congressman who’s out on bail. There is no stopping this movement, and we are ready to win on Election Day."

The poll also showed that Collins has a 51 percent unfavorability, while McMurray’s name recognition has surged -- 74 percent of respondents know about McMurray.

The poll was conducted by Tulchin Research from Oct. 25th to Oct. 28th and had a sample size of 400 people. The results showed that 47 percent supporting McMurray, 43 percent for Collins, and 4 percent for Reform Party candidate Larry Piegza. The margin of error is ±4 percent.

The polling memo can be viewed here.

NOTE: The FiveThirtyEight poll, with results through Oct. 26, shows Collins with a slim margin. The New York Times poll also gives Collins a small edge. It also carries this disclaimer (true of all polling): "It’s just one poll, and we’ve talked to only 486 people. Each candidate’s total could easily be five points different if we polled everyone in the district. And having a small sample is only one possible source of error."

October 25, 2018 - 5:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, Nate McMurray, news.

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Press release:

Nate McMurray, Democrat and Working Families Party candidate in NY-27, was joined today by Vice President Joe Biden at The Olive Tree Restaurant, where the two greeted voters and talked about McMurray’s campaign for Congress.

Former Vice President Biden is the most high-profile leader to stump for McMurray, who has been gaining momentum as two recent polls showed a virtual dead heat following the incumbent Chris Collins’ indictment.

“I grew up with people very similar to the residents of this district, not that far from here,” said former Vice President Biden.  “Hardworking middle-class families who just want leaders who understand their challenges and work to make their lives better. It’s about creating jobs that the working families of New York can live on. Making sure their kids have safe streets and good schools, and the opportunity for a decent life.

"Folks here put country before party because they know that it’s the right thing to do. And that’s why I’m proud to support Nate because he’ll fight for those families, every day, and give them the kind of Representative they deserve.

“Vice President Biden is a prime example of a leader who has dedicated his life to serving our country and always standing up for working and middle-class families like ours.  It’s an honor to have his support,” McMurray said.

With less than two weeks to go, McMurray’s campaign has generated excitement across New York and the country as he takes on the indicted incumbent Chris Collins. Last week, the race was added to the DCCC’s “Red to Blue” list as two polls confirmed that it is neck-and-neck.

October 24, 2018 - 6:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nate McMurray, NY-27, news, notify.

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If you take Nate McMurray at his word, he often sounds a lot more like a conservative, or even a populist, than the progressive he sometimes claims to be.

He says, for example, that he's a capitalist. He believes in an American work ethic. He worries about deficit spending. He's concerned about any increase in middle-class taxes. He decries over-regulation of business. He's a gun owner who says a homeowner has a right to use a firearm to defend himself and his household. He lists Ronald Reagan as one of his childhood heroes.

On the populist side, he says Donald Trump is right about some things -- he's right about unfair trade deals and he's right that much of America has been hurt by recent economic policies and that the system has become fundamentally unfair to working Americans.

If McMurray goes to Washington, he promises to be his own man. He won't be beholden to Nancy Pelosi and he won't owe anything to any special interests.

"I am not controlled by anybody, especially not Nancy Pelosi," McMurray said Monday night during a meeting with about 50 undecided voters at Noblehurst Farms in Pavilion. "I have no relationship with her whatsoever. ... I don’t know anything about Nancy Pelosi. I’m going to go (to Washington) and I’m going to be an independent voice. If Nancy Pelosi is right about something, I’m going to say that’s right. If she’s wrong, I’m going to say that’s wrong."

Rise from underdog to legitimate challenger

When Nate McMurray announced his intention to run for Congress in New York's 27th District, he wasn't even the favorite among the five others expected to vie for the seat. Once he emerged after a few weeks as the lone Democrat still interested in running, Gov. Andrew Cuomo tried putting pressure on Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul to drop her bid for reelection and run against Rep. Chris Collins, whom she lost to in 2012. Hochul refused to switch races and has since endorsed McMurray.

Early on, McMurray adopted the hashtag on social media "#NateWillWin" but remained at best a long shot as July dragged into August. Even though ethics questions hung on Collins like bright red lights on a Christmas tree, the GOP said Collins was their man. His credentials included a first-in-Congress endorsement of Donald J. Trump in 2016 and a $1.4 million war chest. Loyalty to Trump in the 27th runs deep (the president's approval rating is 62 percent, twenty points higher than the rest of the nation) and Collins has never wavered from his support for the sometimes embattled president.

The incumbent seemed invincible.

That all changed when the multimillionaire businessman was arrested Aug. 8 and charged with securities fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI, in connection with a series of stock trades his son Cameron and others made in June 2017 after Collins learned that a critical drug trial had failed for Innate Therapeutics.

Collins is accused of illegally providing confidential information about the drug trial's failure to his son during a phone call Collins placed from the lawn of the White House.

Since then, Collins has said he was running for reelection, then not running for reelection, and then was back in the race. In the intervening weeks, he has largely avoided the public and reporters while dumping campaign funds into TV commercials that portray McMurray as a Pelosi-backed extremist out to destroy the presidency, destroy the economy, and take away your guns.

None of that is true, McMurray told the crowd at Monday night's meeting.

"Every independent news outlet that has looked into these things is saying the advertisements are false," McMurray said. "The fliers are false. The advertisements are false. If the stuff (Collins) is saying is so true, he would have the guts to stand on stage and say it to my face."

McMurray has worked hard. The criminal charges have hurt Collins. While Trump supporters are steadfastly behind their man, other members of the GOP are expressing doubt and the race has tipped from a sure thing for Collins to a toss-up, according to a recent Siena poll.

Contrasting backgrounds, different messages

McMurray, a barrel-chested, 6'3" former high school bodybuilder,  makes much of his working-class background, both to burnish his populist image (though he said he never thought of himself as a populist until asked about it) and to contrast his upbringing to that of Collins.

McMurray was born in Tonawanda. His father was a proud union member, a painter, and McMurray said the chemicals in the paint at the time were more dangerous. His father died of cancer at age 39, leaving his 35-year-old wife to raise McMurray and his six siblings on her own.

He said finances were a struggle. He worked his way through Erie County Community College. He studied hard and became a Fulbright Scholar and earned his law degree and passed the bar. He's been a corporate attorney most of his adult life, most recently with Delaware North in Buffalo. He is currently the supervisor in the Town of Grand Island.

Collins, in McMurray's narrative, grew up in privilege. Where McMurray is a working-class Western New Yorker, Collins is the son of a well-to-do business executive, able to attend a four-year university in North Carolina. Where McMurray made his own way, Collins benefitted from his family's wealth. Where McMurray played by the rules, Collins thinks the rules don't apply to him.

"If we win this seat, we don’t just win for Western New York," McMurray said Monday night. "We send a message to this entire country that a guy who started at a community college, who worked every day, worked his way through law school, is able to beat maybe the richest and perhaps the most corrupt man in Congress."

McMurray also thinks his background and his attitudes, especially his full-throated support for capitalism and his support of Second Amendment rights, puts him in conflict with the mainstream of the contemporary Democratic Party.

"I do not want to run to impeach President Trump," McMurray said during an interview with The Batavian early this month at WBTA's studio. "I don't support the SAFE Act. I mean there are things about me that most Democrats when they hear me, they cringe. The reason why I'm a Democrat however is I think we need some fairness in our society.

"I think some things got out of whack. I think we need to fight for working people again. I want to restore the Democratic Party -- not of Nancy Pelosi, but the Democratic Party of my dad, who wore a union jacket with pride and believed in labor and believed in working families, and that's who I am and that's what I'm fighting for."

In our interview, we talked about issues and policy. McMurray said it was the first time a reporter had sat down and talked to him in depth about what he really believes and not just the horse race angle of a political campaign.

The economy & trade, capitalism vs. socialism

We spent most of the time talking about economics: the nature of capitalism, the threat of socialism, and Trump's trade policies.

"I want to save capitalism from where we are," McMurray said. "I think capitalism is in danger. I think we're moving towards oligarchy. I think we're moving toward a society where a few people have all the power and control the democracy and control the vote and control the propaganda that we see every day about who to vote for.

"I can see that in my own race. We have potlucks and picnics where it is very successful it seems but unless you're going into that corporate till and getting those $50,000 dollar checks, it's almost impossible to compete."

McMurray defends capitalism from a populist viewpoint.

"Right now, those rules are dominated by a clique of corporations and powerful elites," McMurray said. "It makes sense. Think about it. Why would a major corporation hire lawyers? I'm one of those lawyers they've hired in the past. Why would they hire lobbyists to shape and manipulate laws to their benefit?

"Everything from labor standards to environmental laws to everything else. They're passing the risks on to us. A congressperson is supposed to be in there making sure those laws are also fair to help people who don't have that power, not the lobbyists. We're supposed to be an advocate for regular people."

Big Pharma, economic elites and the forgotten

It's the crony capitalist controlling the system, McMurray said. The problem is perhaps most acute, in his view, in the pharmaceutical industry.

"We have to shorten (drug patents)," McMurray said. "They're almost indefinite right now so they can rake everybody over the coals. That's why we got people in Batavia driving to Canada to get medicine because we pay more than any (other country). So that's what I'm talking about. They say why aren't you a capitalist? Yeah, I'm capitalist but we have to have a capitalistic system that makes sure all stakeholders are considered and not just ones with the money to buy lawyers they can make the laws for them."

It's this sort of populist resentment of the economic elite setting the rules to benefit themselves that fires up Donald Trump's base, McMurray said, and they're right.

At 43, married for 20 years, with two sons, Moses, 10, and Luke, 7, McMurray says he wants to represent the working families of Western New York, not corporate interests. 

"I also believe that the message of President Trump is a strong message," McMurray said. "People have been forgotten in this country. Now I don't agree with his answers but I agree with that message. I believe that we have to remember there's a forgotten America. We can see that in the 27th District. Look at our population decline. Look at how things have gone downhill for so many people. We need someone to advocate for them.

"We know who is advocating for the big corporations," McMurray added. "I'm not taking any corporate money. I've denied corporate money. Look at my background as a business person. That money is accessible to me and it's been painful. It's tested my values not to take that money but we're doing everything to try to run this the way the Founding Fathers intended, from a grassroots perspective."

Trade creates opportunities for Americans

On one hand, McMurray says he shares Trump's views that the United States has gotten itself trapped in unfair trade deals based on naive and utopian views of the world. On the other, when pressed, he acknowledges NAFTA has benefitted the United States and that KORUS (the free-trade agreement with South Korea) has opened up a new market for U.S. companies (in one of his corporate jobs, McMurray helped U.S. companies find customers in South Korea, helping to create jobs in the United States, which is the exact opposite of what Collins claims in one of his campaign commercials).

The United States needs trade, McMurray said, to create opportunities for America's farmers and manufacturers.

"The biggest populations are in Asia," McMurray said. "They're in India and China. Those are growing economies where people are hungry for new items. Listen, I'm someone who has been over there for awhile. They would kill for our Fords or a nice big truck. Many Chinese guys would love to drive a brand new F-150.

"We've got to make sure they have access to it. You know many people in China would love clean milk from Batavia or clean yogurt from Batavia. To put up a wall and say we're not going to sell to these people, that's lunacy."

Again, while saying he agrees with Trump on trade, he opposes tariffs. It's hard, after all, to call yourself a capitalist and support tariffs.

"I think tariffs are bad," McMurray said. "I think that it depends on the situation. I mean a tariff is a tax, essentially. It's a tax on whatever business is being poked. Right now it's a tax on soybean farmers. (It's a tax on consumers, The Batavian interjects) Yes, it's a tax. I mean they call it a tariff but a tariff is a tax. Go back and look at our history. Go back to the Boston Tea Party. A tariff is a tax. So in principle, I'm against it."

Regarding McMurray's economic populism, in our interview, we raised the issue that much of the resentment expressed by many Americans about their economic status is driven by political rhetoric. The left in particular, for a decade or more, has decried wage inequality and wage stagnation. The message has stuck even though it doesn't fully account for how every American at every level of society is actually better off than 10, 20, even 30 years ago.

Some inequality is needed to power the American Dream. It's what drives entrepreneurs to create new things and new jobs. Complaints about wage stagnation ignore the fact that overall compensation has continued to rise, driven mainly by employers paying ever-increasing health care costs (costs that eat up potential raises), and that consumer purchasing power has increased decade by decade (see this chart from humanprogress.org).

McMurray replied that he worries that the sense of resentment people feel when the boss makes so much more than they do is an overall threat to the survival of capitalism. That perception, whether based on reality or not, needs to be addressed, he said.

"There is definitely some truth that capitalism over time is consistently (better)," McMurray said. "This is why I'm a capitalist. It consistently improves the lives of people. It consistently does so. I think if you're making the long-term argument things have gotten better over time for a lot of people. It certainly has, but I think there's also the truth that on the top what they have is getting larger and larger. And I think that's a threat to the overall system."

In 2018, McMurray finds himself in a Democratic Party that is unlike the Democratic Party of his father. The socialists are surging. Bernie Sanders remains popular and a possible  2020 presidential contender. In New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a congressional candidate, Julia Salazar, a State Senate candidate, are avowed socialists Ten more self-identified socialists across the nation have won state house races, while more than 50 percent of Democrats polled say they've lost faith in capitalism. The Democratic Socialists of American, whose adherents include Ocasio-Cortez and Salazar, now has more than 50,000 members, up from 7,000 less than two years ago.

Given a chance to talk to socialists in his midst, McMurray says he would tell them how misguided they are in their support of socialism, which has cost countless millions their lives over the past 100 years and has led to economic ruin everywhere it's been tried. He said the idea that capitalism is inherently evil is extremely dangerous.

"(To) the people who want to embrace socialism, I would ask them to look at our history and see the failures of the last 100 years in the world and the many, many people who died from these experiments," McMurray said. "You have to be very cautious about trying to use these social experiments to fix all the -- there's no magic wand to fix all the world's problems. Human beings, there are many challenges to human life. There are things we can do better, but I would ask them to remember how great our success as a country has been for the last hundred years."

Opposes 'unwinnable wars'

On foreign policy, Donald Trump campaigned as a non-interventionist. He's governed like a neo-conservative. If elected, McMurray said he would oppose unwinnable wars.

"Well, obviously, we don't we don't use U.S. troops unless we're sure about what we're doing and we have a clear goal," McMurray said. "I would never send my children to war, to death, to violence without having a clear goal and a clear understanding what we're trying to achieve. I think what we are not the world's police. I think that's a mistake. "

If elected, McMurray said it will not be his goal to impeach Donald Trump but he does think Congress needs to reassert its rightful place in our system of checks and balances and reclaim some of its power from the executive branch, though he pivoted in his answer to a state issue, the SAFE Act, to illustrate how unchecked power causes people to distrust government.

"We're creeping towards the unintentional destruction of our of our separation of powers system," McMurray said. "I think the way the executive order has been used by past presidents, like President Obama, has been gratuitous and wrong. I think the way we force -- listen, when people feel they're forced to do something or it's not done through the proper process or system they get angry. They get apathetic. That's why people hate the SAFE Act, more than anything else, because they feel it was forced upon them in an undemocratic way. They are angry about that. I agree with that. They should be angry about it."

Guns and the Second Amendment

On guns, McMurray supports the Second Amendment, though he won't side, he said, with the absolutists on the left or the right of the issue.

"I believe the extreme positions on both sides are wrong," McMurray said. "I believe in universal background checks. We have to look at certain weapons and who gets to hold them and how they get to hold them but I can promise you, I will not take action without listening to the 2A groups that oppose me now. I will talk to these guys. I will listen to them because there are a lot of experts. I am amazed at the amount of detail and research that has been done on this issue and I believe in the Second Amendment."

The gun issue in this campaign came up in a unique way a couple of weeks ago when Grand Island Republican Councilman Michael Madigan complained to local media that McMurray threatened him. He produced a recording where McMurray said, “I think you’re sick. I think you really are. I have a gun. Don’t come to my house.”

Rather than defend McMurray's Second Amendment rights, the Collins campaign used it as an opportunity to attack him, according to a statement released to the Buffalo News.

“This obnoxious and borderline violent behavior displayed by Nate McMurray is nothing out of the ordinary,” said Collins campaign spokeswoman Natalie Baldassarre. “Whether it be his off-putting comments on social media or his unprofessional conduct during town meetings, it’s clear Nate needs to learn how to keep his emotions in check. This audio is deeply disturbing and further shows Nate is unhinged.”

After Monday night's event, McMurray defended his reminder to Madigan that he owned a gun. The right to defend yourself, your family, and your home is a fundamental right most NY-27 residents support, he said. He's surprised the Collins campaign would attack him over it.

"This is a guy (Madigan) who digs through my garbage and hides in the bushes," McMurray said. "I told him, you come near my house again, I’m going to defend my family. I would say it 100 times. It’s the way I believe."

The NRA has given McMurray an F rating. On Twitter yesterday, McMurray complained that the NRA has no voting record on which to judge him and didn't even bother to ask him a single question about gun rights.

He called the NRA "corporate hacks."

The attack on his position on guns by Collins, he said, is just another way Collins lies about him.

"Some people on the other side (the left) say I’m way too pro-gun, so I think I’m OK," McMurray said. "I want reasonable steps like universal background checks but I would never do anything to take away the Second Amendment."

New York voters have been disappointed a couple of times by Democrats who campaigned with conservative and populist themes only to transform into standard-issue progressive Democrats once they obtained statewide office (Kathy Hochul, Kirsten Gillibrand), so you will have to decide for yourself whether to take McMurray at his word when he espouses conservative values.  

For McMurray's part, he says he wouldn't be where he is, living in Grand Island, serving as town supervisor, if he wasn't at least a little red.

"We have a very red town and we're proud of that," McMurray said. "We're proud of what that means. We believe in conservatism from a traditional perspective, which means you hold onto your traditions and your values and you hold them as important because they're valuable to you. They define who you are as a community. In that sense, I would call myself also a conservative.

"I mean, again, I grew up as an Eagle Scout. I grew up in a very very Christian household. I grew up reading very conservative authors. I grew up respecting and loving Ronald Reagan, like any kid in the '80s. That's who I am and I think we need to get away from this paradigm of Republicans versus Democrats. First and foremost we're Americans and Americans do not want to be taken advantage of by people like Mr. Collins."

natemcmurrayoct242018.jpg

October 23, 2018 - 10:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nate McMurray, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Nate McMurray, the Democratic and Working Families Party candidate in New York’s 27th Congressional District, today released his multi-point Clean up Corruption Plan to crack down on corruption in Washington, D.C.
 
Corruption on both sides of the aisle is all too familiar to the people of Western New York, from Chris Collins’ recent indictment for insider trading and lying to the FBI, to the guilty pleas of former Erie Democratic Chair Steve Pigeon.
 
“Elected officials should work on behalf of the people they represent and no one else -- not corporate boards, not special interests, their constituents. It’s that simple,” McMurray said. “We know the consequences of a man like Mr. Collins all too well in this region: their greed robs us as taxpayers and their betrayal undermines our faith in democracy. It is the antithesis of public service. In Congress, I will fight for this to limit special interests’ influence on our leaders and elections. We deserve better.”
 
McMurray’s “Clean up Corruption Plan” is outlined below:

  • Enact far stricter limits on political contributions from special interests, lobbyists and wealthy special interests. McMurray has voluntarily imposed  a ban on corporate PAC money for his campaign, but this should be the law for all candidates;
  • Prohibit members of Congress from sitting on for-profit corporate boards;
  • Pass tougher campaign finance laws and more transparent disclosures of outside political spending;
  • Overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates for unlimited, untraceable spending in our elections.

McMurray has been a consistent voice for good government throughout the campaign. He has refused to accept corporate PAC money and has been endorsed by End Citizens United, a group dedicated to getting Big Money out of politics.
 
McMurray has funded his campaign the right way: 5,700 different people contributed to McMurray’s campaign in the last three months; more than 4,600 of them gave $50 or less. In fact, the average donation was under $70.

October 22, 2018 - 12:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nate McMurray, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Yesterday the New York Post issued their Congressional endorsements for races in New York State and New Jersey, and the sole Democrat to earn their support is Nate McMurray in New York's 27th Congressional District.

The right-leaning paper today made clear that Chris Collins’ indictment made him an unacceptable choice for voters. 
 
Said the New York Post, "After first agreeing to drop out, Collins changed his mind and plainly means to use the seat as a chip in plea-bargaining…voters should return the incumbent’s contempt."
 
The same day, the Buffalo News reported on a lack of enthusiasm among Republicans in NY-27.
 
Earlier this week, the McMurray campaign announced Republicans for Nate, a steering committee of Republican supporters committed to reaching out to fellow GOP voters to support McMurray. 
 
“Voters from all backgrounds can’t run away fast enough from Chris Collins,” McMurray said. “Every day I meet more regular folks who believe in putting country over party. They’re sick of the fighting, sick of being lied to, and embarrassed to be represented by a man out on bail. Voters are smarter than Mr. Collins gives them credit for. 
 
"My commitment was never to any one party, it was always to families like mine, and hardworking women and men worried about health care and Social Security, who feel like the system is rigged against them. We don’t all agree on every issue, but I will always listen and truly represent the people of our region.” 
 
Since the August indictment, national and local Republicans have been turning their back on Collins. The Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan stripped him of all his committee assignments. The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee said they would “not give a dime” to this race. And the House Ethics Committee voted unanimously to investigate him.

October 17, 2018 - 12:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, Nate McMurray, news.

Press release:

Nate McMurray, Democrat and Working Families Party Congressional candidate in NY-27, today announced that he has been added to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue program, which recognizes top-tier candidates who are running strong campaigns.

McMurray’s addition to the DCCC Red to Blue program is further proof of his momentum following a week of impressive fund-raising figures; polls showing the race is a dead heat; and news that his opponent, Chris Collins, who was indicted on charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI, will not even stand trial until 2020, more than a year into the next congressional term.

“It’s gratifying to have earned this support of the DCCC," McMurray said. "It’s clear that they see what we see: our grassroots support is real and that we’re building momentum by talking to neighbors, getting small dollar donations, and standing up for what’s right.

"We’re sticking to our values of economic fairness and integrity, and voters are putting country before party because nobody wants a Congressman out on bail. People are tired of a system that’s rigged against them and know that we need real change to make it happen.”

“As Town Supervisor of Grand Island, Nate is a proven leader who has a record of working for Western New York. Nate’s emphasis on putting people first has helped him build a strong grassroots campaign that is highly competitive and prepared to bring ethical representation to New York’s 27th Congressional District,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Lujan. 

Already, McMurray has welcomed the support of Democratic National Committee Chairman and Buffalo-native Tom Perez as well as New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Congressman Brian Higgins, Congressman Paul Tonko and the endorsement of almost every major local and national union.

Surging support for McMurray comes as national Republicans are running away from Chris Collins. Last month, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers told reporters, “I don’t plan to spend a penny in that race."

Red to Blue is a highly competitive and battle-tested DCCC program that arms top-tier candidates with organizational and fundraising support to help them continue to run strong campaigns. Additionally, the DCCC provides strategic guidance, staff resources, candidate trainings, and more.

October 16, 2018 - 12:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify, Nate McMurray, Larry Piegza.

A poll released today by Siena gives Rep. Chris Collins a mere 3-percentage-point lead over challenger Nate McMurray in the NY-27 congressional race.

Three percentage points are within the margin of error -- plus or minus 4.7 percent -- making the race a statistical dead heat. 

This matches the results of an internal poll released by McMurray's campaign last week that showed the race tracking as a tie with three weeks left until Election Day.

In response to the release of the poll, McMurray issued the following statement:

“This poll tells us what we already know, that voters are choosing country over party. They’re motivated based on who will help families like theirs rather than simply voting along partisan lines. We always knew this would be a close race, and this poll shows that it’s neck and neck. But our TV ads went on the air yesterday, after this poll was conducted; our grassroots support is strong, and as more voters tune in to the race and learn that they have a real choice, we’re more and more confident.”

The Batavian emailed Natalie Baldassarre, campaign manager for Collins, and asked for a statement from Collins -- not her -- about the poll, his third-quarter fundraising report, which includes a campaign expenditure for the use of a private jet. We have not received a response.

Political reporter Ryan Whalan with Capitol Tonight in Albany said in a tweet this morning that he has made several requests to Collins for an interview and has been rebuffed. Since his arrest on federal charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI, Collins has largely avoided contact with the media or answering tough questions.

His only campaign appearances have been at invite-only Republican events. After The Batavian was unable to secure an interview with Collins, we announced we would stop publishing his campaign press releases until he sits down for an interview with The Batavian. The deadline for the interview is this Friday and Collins has yet to agree to an interview.

The Siena Poll results released doesn't break out how Collins is doing vs. McMurray in Genesee County, but it does say McMurray is leading in Erie County 46 to 45 percent. Collins is leading in the rest of the 27th District 46 to 42 percent.

Reform Party Candidate Larry Piegza is favored by 1 percent of the voters.

While Collins has a narrow lead in the race, the indicted congressman has a much higher unfavorable rating than McMurray, 49 to 21 percent. 

In most congressional races throughout the country, women are trending toward supporting the Democratic candidate but not in the NY-27. Collins is supported by 46 percent of the women polled compared to 42 percent for McMurray.

McMurray also seems to be bucking the trend of Democrats picking up younger voters. In the under 55 demographic, Collins leads 49 to 42 percent. McMurray is fairing better with older voters, where Collins' margin is a mere 2 percentage points,  45 to 43.

McMurray leads the race among nonpartisan voters 46-45 percent.

Siena surveyed 490 likely voters in the district between Oct. 6 and 11.

President Donald Trump's approval rating is 56 percent among voters in the district, much higher than his 42 percent approval rating nationally.

Fifty-six percent of those polled want to see the Republicans maintain control of the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, since his arrest, Collins has seen donations to his campaign fall off a cliff, according to the Buffalo News.

Collins, who reportedly had more than $1 million in his war chest before his arrest, raised $32,755.74 in the third quarter, and only $2,955 was donated to his campaign after his arrest.

All but $80 of the money donated to Collins in the last round came from residents of the 27th District.

In the quarter, Collins spent $233,369 on advertising, $40,147.33 in legal fees and a $7,895 on a charter flight.

Members of Congress must justify travel expenses as a legitimate campaign activity to spend campaign funds on travel, according to House Rules.

Baldassarre told the Buffalo News that the chartered plane was used to return Collins to Buffalo after his arrest in New York City on Aug. 8. Collins was hours late to a press conference he scheduled and congressional staff at the time (the event was staffed by government employees, not campaign employees) told members of the media that his flight had been delayed. Though Collins called a press conference, he refused to take questions after issuing a statement.

October 15, 2018 - 4:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, Nate McMurray, news.

Press release:

Nate McMurray, Democrat and Working Families Party Congressional candidate in NY-27, released the following statement in response to fundraising figures released by his opponent, Chris Collins who is currently out on bail after being indicted on charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI.

“Let me get this straight: Chris Collins sat on the board of a drug company, then conspired to make sure he didn’t lose money when a drug trial failed, then lied about it to the FBI, then decided he’d run for re-election because his lawyers thought it would keep him out of jail and now the only financial support for his campaign comes from pharmaceutical special interests? If it wasn’t so shameless, it would be unbelievable,” McMurray said.

“Who is Chris Collins beholden to? Not the voters, he won’t even meet with them. But his buddies in the pharmaceutical industry? Yes, and he’ll end up in jail because of it. Now we have evidence that he’s using his campaign as a slush fund to pay his attorneys even after he said he wouldn’t.

“Mr. Collins has said that his loyalty is to his donors, but he doesn’t seem to have many of those either. He spent more on fundraising consultants and fundraising events than he’s earned.

“Support is fading, Chris. People see that your campaign gets more desperate by the day. I’m proud that we’ve had thousands of hard-working Americans chipping in through potlucks and picnics to fight the corruption they see in Washington. They know we can do better than a member of Congress out on bail and has been kicked off of every Congressional committee.”

A third-quarter filing with the Federal Election Commission by Collins shows his campaign raised a mere $32,755.74 in the last three months.

Last week, McMurray announced that he raised more than $475,000 in the third quarter, the vast majority of it in the seven weeks following Collins’ indictment. McMurray’s impressive fundraising comes even as he will not accept corporate PAC money.

He was recently endorsed by End Citizens United, a group dedicated to getting Big Money out of politics and fixing the rigged system in Washington so it works for all Americans. McMurray’s full announcement is here.

McMurray's impressive fundraising kicked off a week of good news as a recent poll showed McMurray tied with Chris Collins. And today, McMurray’s advertisements went on the air. Momentum is building for McMurray in NY-27.

October 11, 2018 - 7:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, Nate McMurray, news, chris collins.

Press release:

Nate McMurray, Democrat and Working Families Party Congressional candidate in NY-27, today responded to news that his opponent, indicted member of Congress Chris Collins won’t stand trial until 2020. Collins was indicted on charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI in August.

“Now it’s official, Chris Collins will be beholden to his defense attorneys for the next year and a half, not the voters, not the hard-working people of Western New York, but his lawyers," McMurray said.

"He won’t just be a part-time, he’ll be a no-time Congressman. This is shocking and truly embarrassing to the people of Western New York. I’m out talking to voters every day and they tell me that they deserve better. They’re right.

“House Speaker Paul Ryan has stripped Collins of all of his committee assignments in Congress. He won’t help the people of this region. He can’t help the people of this region. He never did. There couldn’t be a clearer contrast in this race. He will not let go of his congressional seat until this trial is over, or until the voters take it from him. They will.”

This morning, McMurray stood shoulder-to-shoulder with more than 100 activists and supporters from the labor community who pledged to work to get McMurray elected on Nov. 6. They praised his integrity, work ethic and commitment to the values that help the working men and women of this region.

McMurray was endorsed by New York’s Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, the last Democrat to win this district and a great champion of Western New York./p>

McMurray'’s rally with working people comes a day after he announced polling that shows a dead heat between himself and Collins. Earlier this week, McMurray’s campaign announced he raised close to a half million dollars in the third quarter with the vast majority of that money coming in the seven weeks following Collins’ indictment – and that total does not include any corporate PAC money.

October 11, 2018 - 1:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, Larry Piegza, Nate McMurray.

Press release:

The Reform Party Candidate, Larry Piegza, announces he is willing to take Chris Collins' spot in the McMurray/Collins debate.

"Chris Collins obviously has more pressing legal issues than to explain to the voters in NY-27 how he intends to represent us," Piegza sent in a statement. "Fortunately, there are still two candidates on the ballot that are prepared to represent our district.

"Nate McMurray, I accept your #DebateNate Challenge. If the Buffalo News is still willing to host it, I am still game. Collins can come if he can get time away from preparing for his trial. I am sure that the voters would love to hear how he plans to represent our district if he is convicted and serving jail time."

A pro-Trump Republican, Piegza has been unsuccessfully pushing the local Republican offices to only endorse ethical candidates for the last 12 months. He earned the Reform Party's endorsement in June. In the past, the Reform Party has always endorsed Collins, but they broke from it this year when they learned about the fact that Collins might have broken the law.

"Kudos to the Reform Party for only supporting candidates who are more ethically sound," Piegza said. "And it really paid off. If they hadn't stepped up an endorsed me, the people in the district would have had to choose between voting for a possible criminal and a Democrat.

"I would have been curious to see how many people actually voted in November. Now, they can vote for an ethical conservative who supports all of Trump's agenda. In addition, I plan to use an online town hall so the people in the district can always tell me what their needs are. That means I will be able to do a better job of keeping in touch with everyone than Collins did."

Piegza has tried unsuccessfully to debate McMurray in the past. In the weeks following Collins' indictment, his campaign aired 30-second commercials on WBEN accepting his #DebateNate challenge. These were ignored by the McMurray campaign.

Now, it appears that McMurray is changing his mind. In a Facebook post on Oct. 10, 2018, McMurray played off of the "Fix It Larry" moniker McMurray has used for his website (FixItLarry.org) and said that McMurray should be calling for a debate.

"BANG THAT HAMMER! Democracy needs some noise." In the post, McMurray also proposes to set up an empty chair for Collins.

"This is a welcome surprise," Piegza said. "I thought that I would finally get a chance to debate Nate at the forum at SUNY Geneseo, but apparently McMurray isn't attending. I am glad to see he isn't avoiding me."

As for the empty chair, Piegza says, "Collins might feel more comfortable if we swap the chair out for a prison bench."

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