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February 17, 2019 - 3:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today announced the application period for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant Program FY18.

Administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the SAFER Grant Program is designed to help local fire departments and Emergency Management Service (EMS) providers to increase or maintain the number of trained, “frontline” firefighters available in their communities.

“The SAFER Grant Program provides funding assistance to our local fire departments and EMS providers in order to help recruit new members and ensure that current members are up to date on their training,” Congressman Collins said. “I encourage all NY-27 fire departments and EMS providers to apply for this program.”

FEMA will accept applications from eligible departments now through 5 p.m. Friday, March 22.

Interested applicants with further questions or those seeking letters of support from Congressman Chris Collins are asked to call his Geneseo District Office at (585)-519-4002.

February 8, 2019 - 10:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in SAFE Act, news, NY-27, chris collins.

Press release:

By reintroducing the Second Amendment Guarantee Act (SAGA), Congressman Collins continues his effort to protect the Second Amendment rights of all New Yorkers by limiting a state's authority when it comes to regulating rifles and shotguns.

The Collins’ bill would prevent states from implementing any regulations on weapons that are more restrictive than what is required by federal law. Passage of this bill would void most of the language included in New York’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act of 2013 signed into law by Governor Cuomo.

“Governor Cuomo unjustly took away the Second Amendment rights from law-abiding New Yorkers with his so-called SAFE Act,” said Collins. “I have and always will be a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and my legislation will guarantee that New Yorkers have the rights guaranteed to them in the Constitution.”

The Cuomo SAFE Act violates federal regulations because it imposed rifle and shotgun bans that possess certain features. It also banned the capacity of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition and limiting magazines to seven rounds at any time.

Any current or future laws enacted by a state that exceeds federal law for rifles and shotguns would be voided under the Collins' legislation. Should a state violate this law and a plaintiff goes to court, the court will award the prevailing plaintiff a reasonable attorney’s fee in addition to any other damages.

February 6, 2019 - 10:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release: 

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) tonight released the following statement regarding the State of the Union address.

“Tonight, President Trump called on all lawmakers to work together and to choose greatness. Under President Trump’s leadership, we have passed monumental tax and criminal justice reforms. Our economy is flourishing and American families have more money in their pockets, but we still have work to do.

While President Trump is fighting for fair trade and the American worker, it is time for Congress to come together to strengthen our borders and fix our broken immigration system. Together, we can accomplish a greater America.”

January 25, 2019 - 4:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement:

“Congratulations to President Trump for having the courage to act by opening the federal government. Now it’s time for Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to put aside petty politics and work with the President to put an end to the crisis at our southern border.

"The fact is we cannot continue to sustain ourselves as a nation without having real boarders borders and real immigration reform. The only way for this crisis to be resolved will be for all parties to engage in substantive negotiations over the next few weeks and reach a consensus on border security.”

January 24, 2019 - 3:50pm

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today announced $2,800,426 in federal funding for the Community Action of Orleans and Genesee Inc. The grant was awarded through the Head Start Projects Program from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which promotes school readiness of children under 5  from low-income families.
 
The Head Start program supports children in growth and development through a variety of services depending on the needs of the local community. Their programs are based in centers and schools, but also in child care centers and family care homes. Children gain access to early learning for school readiness, healthcare needs, and family well-being.
 
“Children are our future and this program ensures that the children of low-income families can get a jumpstart on their education before kindergarten,” Congressman Collins said. “This funding solidifies this program in our community for years to come.”
 
The Community Action of Orleans and Genesee is a nonprofit organization that has served Western New York for more than 40 years. This organization empowers and provides an opportunity for those who are not yet self-sufficient. They work with programs, like Head Start, to provide short and long term goals for children and their parents in the community.
 
The Head Start program has serviced more than a million children in every U.S. state and territory and continues to support 1,700 public and private nonprofit and for-profit agencies that provide Head Start services.

January 9, 2019 - 12:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Today Congressman Chis Collins (NY-27) formally requested that his paychecks be withheld during the partial government shutdown. Along with withholding his pay, Collins has cosponsored legislation that will ensure that the federal employees who keep our communities and nation safe are paid for their service as shutdown negotiations continue.
 
“I believe it’s unfair for me to receive pay while the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep our country safe are seeing their paychecks delayed,” Collins said. “I’ve requested that my paychecks be withheld until essential federal employees, like our Border Patrol and TSA agents who work to protect the safety and security of American citizens, are fully compensated for their duties during this partial government shutdown.”
 
The Providing Pay For Essential Employees Act, introduced by Congressman Bob Gibbs, (OH-07), and cosponsored by Collins, directs the Treasury Department to appropriate funds to cover the salaries and any expenses of any officer or employee of the federal government physically working during the partial government shutdown beginning on or about Dec. 22, 2018.
 
Collins added: “It’s time for partisan Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to quit using hardworking Americans as pawns as they stonewall efforts to secure the border and reopen our government. Protecting American citizens should be a top priority, and it is my hope that Congress and President Trump can work together to find a bipartisan solution that effectively secures our borders and reopens the federal government in a timely manner.”

December 20, 2018 - 9:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release: 

Today Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) again called on New York State's Governor, Andrew Cuomo to stop diverting fees collected for 9-1-1 services. The Federal Communication Commission's annual report shows that New York State continues to divert nearly 42 percent of fees collected from consumers on their phone bills -- which are meant to be used to improve 9-1-1 emergency communications systems -- to the Governor's slush fund.

Earlier this year, Congressman Collins introduced the 911 Fee Integrity Act, that prevents states from diverting fees collected for 9-1-1 services. Collins' bill directs the FCC, in consultation with public safety organizations, and state, local and tribal governments, to determine the appropriate use of funds collected from consumers.

Currently, states are able to set their own definition of what is a covered cost for 9-1-1 fees, which has allowed states such as New York to divert fees into a general fund.

"It is completely unacceptable that New York State continues to divert funds meant to improve 9-1-1 emergency services, to Governor Cuomo's corrupt and shady slush fund," Collins said.

"These fees should be used to make important and necessary improvements to emergency response systems -- doing otherwise is inappropriate and puts New York residents at risk.

"We must prioritize the safety of our communities and improving these services is absolutely essential to keeping our residents safe. I remain committed to pushing the Governor to end this deceptive practice."

The FCC's annual report identifies six states and one territory as diverting 9-1-1 fees for other uses last year: Montana, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. New York also tops the list with one of the highest 9-1-1 fess at $1.20 per line.

"When Americans pay 9-1-1 fees on their phone bills, they rightfully expect that money to fund 9-1-1-related services," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in the FCC's release. "Unfortunately, the FCC's annual report shows that, once again, several states have siphoned 9-1-1 funding for unrelated purposes.

"This is outrageous and it undermines public safety. But there is also some good news: Thanks to Commissioner O'Rielly's efforts to shine a light on the issue of 9-1-1 fee diversion, as well as the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau's ongoing work, this is the first time that every jurisdiction has responded to the FCC's annual 9-11- fee survey.

"Hopefully, drawing attention in this way to the unacceptable practice of 9-1-1 fee diversion will help end it."

The FCC is required by law to submit an annual report to Congress on the states' collection and distribution of 9-1-1 fees. The FCC's latest state 9-1-1 fee report, as well as reports from prior years, are available here. The agency also issued a Public Notice seeking comment on the findings in the new report.

December 13, 2018 - 9:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in farm bill, agriculture, NY-27, chris collins, business.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) celebrated the passage of H.R 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. H.R. 2, which includes critically important dairy policy reforms that will strengthen and grow the Western New York dairy economy that in recent years has faced significant challenges.
 
H.R. 2 provides greater coverage to dairy farmers through the Margin Protection Program (MPP), and will allow farmers to participate in both the livestock and dairy protection programs. Additionally, the program will be rebranded as the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) Program.
 
"I am extremely proud to see the 2018 Farm Bill make it to President Trump's desk," Collins said. “For too long, dairy farmers in Western New York have struggled to keep the agricultural industry alive because of inefficiencies in past programs and the overall decline in the dairy market. The reforms passed in H.R. 2 will provide a significant boost to farmers right here in Western New York by allowing them to better utilize this program.”
 
This legislation will also help strengthen trade enforcement, promote the research and development of specialty crops, ensure funding to help farmers locate new global markets, significantly increase investment in organic research, and offers cost-sharing assistance to help farmers transition into organics.
 
Collins added: “The agriculture industry is the backbone of New York’s 27th district. Protecting Western New York farmers will always be a priority of mine, and I’m committed to doing what is best to help them succeed. While we still have a lot of work to do to turn this industry around, H.R. 2 is a huge step in the right direction, and I’m pleased to see it pass today.”

Also, a press release from the New York Farm Bureau:

Today’s final vote for the 2018 Farm Bill is a major victory for New York’s farmers, rural communities and consumers. Farmers needed stronger risk management tools in place moving into next year where there are signs that the economic stress will continue in the farming community.

In particular, the new Farm Bill enhances the dairy safety net for farms of every size, including increasing the margin that qualifies for federal insurance programs. New York Farm Bureau also appreciates the research and support programs in the bill that will benefit New York’s specialty crop producers. Having some certainty moving forward in challenging times is a relief for farmers.

In addition, the Farm Bill supports critical conservation programs, rural development projects, and marketing and research programs to expand market opportunities for farmers. It legalizes industrial hemp, which will benefit farms interested in diversification. And the legislation provides permanent funding to help veterans and a new generation of beginning farmers. The biggest portion of the Farm Bill also guarantees Americans, who can least afford to eat, the ability to access the food farmers produce.

New York Farm Bureau is appreciative of New York’s lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives who supported the Farm Bill during this long process, resulting in the bipartisan legislation that their constituents expect. We encourage the President to sign the Farm Bill.”

November 30, 2018 - 4:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) praised President Trump and his administration for officially signing a new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

USMCA will make significant changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that will put the United States on more equal footing with the other nations. Specifically with regard to the dairy industry, Canada’s pricing program has created an unfair playing field and has essentially eliminated U.S. exports of certain dairy products, harming Western New York’s dairy industry.

“President Trump promised better trade deals and he has delivered replacing NAFTA which has caused our region to hemorrhage good paying manufacturing jobs for some time now,” Collins said. “Not only will this new treaty help with manufacturing, but it protects American farmers from burdensome tariffs and regulations.”

Collins has led the fight to end Canada’s unfair Class 7 pricing program, which has severely impacted New York dairy farmers. Under USMCA, Canada has agreed to eliminate this program in order to level the playing field between the United States and Canada while allowing our dairy producers the ability to expand sales overseas.

“With this barrier being struck down, Western New York dairy farmers are now able to compete fairly in Canada, and I thank the president for working to ensure NY-27 farmers are treated fairly,” Collins said.

Outside of the dairy industry, the new trade agreement will increase the production of American goods and services. The agreement requires that 75 percent of auto content be produced in North America and makes critical reforms that will boost auto workers’ wages. Additionally, the USMCA includes strong labor provisions that prioritize and protect American manufacturing jobs.

Furthermore, the agreement provides strong protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. This includes 10 years of data protection for biologic drugs and a large scope of products eligible for protection. These reforms are critical to driving innovation, creating economic growth, and supporting American jobs.

Collins added: “By signing the USMCA, President Trump has fulfilled yet another campaign promise for the American people. Our country has been rightfully restored to a leader on the world stage, and I will continue to work with the White House and Republicans in Congress to uphold and advance the Make America Great Again agenda.”

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.

localdemsnov62018.jpg

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 6, 2018 - 1:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, election, notify.

For the first time -- as far as we know -- Rep. Chris Collins made his first appearance in Genesee County since his arrest Aug. 8, stopping by a polling location in Oakfield to drop off donuts.

Dick Siebert, the Republican election commissioner, said he spoke with a Democratic poll monitor at the poll in Oakfield and Collins did not campaign while at the location, did not carry any campaign material and did not wear anything that would identify him as Chris Collins.

"He spoke to one or two of the inspectors," Siebert said. "From what I understand he just wished them a good day. He had no campaign button or anything on that would identify him as Chris Collins. He did no campaigning with any of the people standing in line to vote."

Collins is running for reelection after being charged with securities fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI. His top rival is Nate McMurray, town supervisor of Grand Island.

The turnout is reportedly good at Genesee County polling locations, on par with a presidential-year election, according to Lorie Longhany, the Democratic election commissioner. 

"We just heard from another polling location and they are using the word, 'busy,' " Longhany said. "My guess is, a more robust turnout for a midterm, which is what is being reported nationally."

Our news partner, WBTA, contributed to this story.

November 5, 2018 - 7:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement urging local schools to participate in this year’s “Holiday Mail for the Troops” Program.

“I am proud to once again invite all elementary age students in New York’s 27th District to create holiday cards for our troops,” Congressman Collins said. “The holiday season is fast approaching and many of our brave service men and women will not be able enjoy it at home with their families.

"Nothing can replace being with loved ones and friends during the holidays, but together we can brighten this holiday season for our troops.”

With your help, we will distribute holiday cards to the brave men and women at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station to show our appreciation for their service.

Participants are asked to drop off the holiday cards to either of Congressman Collins’ district offices no later than Dec. 14 to ensure delivery by Christmas.

Lancaster District Office                          Geneseo District Office
2813 Wehrle Drive, Suite 13                            128 Main St.
Williamsville, NY 14221                                   Geneseo, NY 14454
Phone: (716) 634-2324                                     Phone: (585) 519-4002

Please contact Shannon Dougherty at [email protected] if you have any questions about how your school can participate. You can also reach Shannon by phone at 585-815-5286.

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 2, 2018 - 12:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Larry Piegza, NY-27, news, notify.

Updated at 2:20 p.m. with additional comments from Piegza.

President Trump "is a traitor." He's "Putin's lap dog." "He colluded with the Russians." These aren't statements you would expect to hear from a candidate for Congress who wears a red MAGA hat and holds himself out as a better choice for Trump Republicans than the current incumbent.

But Larry Piegza has used these phrases in his social media advertising The Batavian has learned.

Shortly after our story about Piegza was published yesterday a reader sent us a link to his advertising history on Facebook.

There's a clear pattern: Before Rep. Chris Collins was arrested by federal authorities on insider trading charges, Piegza attacked both Trump and Collins. Trump as a traitor, Collins as corrupt and unethical.

After Collins was arrested, Piegza donned the MAGA hat and proclaimed himself the only pro-Trump conservative who wasn't also facing criminal charges in the race. He's been selling himself that way to the media and on social media and at campaign appearances ever since.

Asked about the transformation, Piegza issued a statement to The Batavian and said the attacks on Trump were an attempt to draw attention to his campaign. He wanted to offer an alternative to Collins -- who was already facing an ethics investigation -- who wasn't a Democrat but Republicans didn't want to listen to him.

"The problem came up against when I tried to get my message out as a third-party candidate," Piegza said. "When people heard that I was against Collins, they accused me of being a Democrat and walked away.

"Noting that Trump gets a lot of press by making huge, provocative statements, I followed his example and called him out on some issues, namely his over usage of Twitter and his bizarre love of Vladimir Putin. I was doing this to create media buzz and get some free press."

After Collins was arrested, Piegza said he changed his tone because he calculated that in the changed political environment, he would get coverage.

"When Chris Collins was arrested, I panicked (like the rest of the district) when I realized that he couldn't get off the ballot," Piegza said. "Our district might be known as the district that elected a criminal! I dropped my provocative statements because I felt the press would cover me more naturally."

We also asked if the Democrats had anything to do with his campaign. He hasn't responded but that's a suggestion raised by Ellis McNally, who describes herself as a Republican strategist in Western New York, in a piece published on the blogging platform Medium in September.

In his statement, Piegza didn't address that charge directly but he did lead off by saying that there had been a fake candidate in the race early on, one seemingly put up by the Collins team, Mike Zak, as a Green Party candidate (an apparent attempt to draw votes from the Democratic nominee). Zak was eventually found out and he withdrew from the race.

In a follow-up e-mail, Piegza said of the suggestion that the Democrats have something to do with his campaign, "It is false. The Reform party has always supported Chris Collins in the past. In this election throughout the state they are endorsing conservatives. They chose to endorse me because Chris Collins probably broke the law and they wanted an ethical candidate. If the local  GOP offices had just endorsed someone else, I wouldn't be running, and the Reform Party wouldn't have endorsed me."

In a NewsGrowler piece about the controversy, published in May, Piegza is described as supporting the Mueller investigation.

Like Collins, Piegza is a hardline conservative. He is pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, and for lowering taxes. Unlike Collins, Piegza describes himself as “pro-Mueller,” indicating his support of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Trump.

Piegza sent two press releases (one, two) to The Batavian before Collins was federally charged with securities fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI (charges he denies). Neither of them mentioned Trump, though Piegza did say he wanted to return the GOP to its conservative roots.

“Many people are saying we’ve drifted from believing in good fiscal responsibility, ethical values, and a government that stays out of our lives. People are saying they’d like to see us return to these values. I’ve shown that I can make good fiscal decisions that aren’t at the expense of another person. I’d love to help restore the party to a strong ethical foundation.” 

It's a common complaint of NeverTrump Republicans that Trump is pulling the party away from its traditional values.

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After the jump, the complete statement from Piegza:

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