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September 22, 2018 - 8:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, Nate McMurray.

Rep. Chris Collins, under federal indictment on charges of securities fraud, has kicked off his resurgent campaign with an ad attacking Democratic candidate Nate McMurray for supposedly having something to do with a free trade agreement with Korea, which Collins falsely claims has cost the United States 95,000 jobs.

In 2010, South Korea and the United States entered a free trade agreement commonly known as KORUS. 

Collins is apparently getting his statistic from a 2016 report by the union-backed Economic Policy Institute, which has a record of calculating job loss estimates solely on a balance-of-trade figure. 

Such a calculation ignores the increase in exports, the lower costs of imports, the jobs created from increased trade, and an assumption that the imports would have been made in the United States if not for the trade agreement. It is not a survey of how many actual workers, if any, were terminated after the trade deal.

Scott Lincicome, an international trade expert with the conservative Cato Institute, has written a couple of times about EPI's flawed methodology. 

EPI used the same methodology to make false claims about jobs lost to China. 

Writing about a similar report in 2012, Lincicome said:

I really shouldn't give the "study" an iota of bandwith, but because it will undoubtedly be mentioned by ignorant journalists or opportunistic politicians looking to respectively score a few cheap page views or scare a few unwitting voters, here's all you need to read:

  • My 2010 blog post dismantling of EPI and its study (including boatloads of links from myriad scholars decrying EPI's asinine "trade deficit = job losses" methodology); and
  • Today's quick dismissal of the EPI report by the U.S.-China Business Council.

The claim of 95,000 jobs lost is also contradicted by steady economic growth in the United States since 2010, including 95 straight months of job growth. Since 2010, the U.S. economy has added more than 18 million jobs.

According to a U.S. Trade Representative report from 2015, KORUS had increased U.S. exports to Korea by nearly $25 billion annually to that point. 

"U.S. auto exports to Korea increased by 208 percent by value between 2011 and 2015," the report states, "more than 14 times faster than the increase of U.S. auto exports to the world (up 14 percent), thanks to Korea’s 50-percent tariff reduction (from 8 percent to 4 percent) when KORUS entered into force."

In 2016, the USTR reported that total, two-way trade with Korea had increased to $144.6 billion, with $63.8 billion in exports and $80.8 billion in imports.

A trade deficit does not translate into job losses, however. It means Americans are buying more because of greater availability or lower prices. It doesn't mean those products would have been made in the United States.

The Batavian tried to contact the communications director for the Collins campaign this morning and got no response. We reached out to Chris Grant, who works for the campaign, and he referred us to a statement Collins issued to the Buffalo News.

This is a real video of Nate McMurray that he removed from social media because he didn’t want to defend his efforts to promote a Korean-U.S. Free Trade Agreement that shipped nearly 100,000 U.S. jobs overseas. Nate McMurray needs a new video to explain why he opposes President Trump's policies that are protecting American jobs and American workers. Hopefully, he’ll leave that video up.

Via text message, The Batavian pointed out to Grant that the statement didn't address Collins's false claim about the number of jobs lost and we got no response.

Collins made his claim as part of a campaign commercial (see video above) that attacks McMurray's past employment as an attorney for U.S. companies in Korea.

According to the Buffalo News story, McMurray helped U.S. companies trying to open up the Korean market to their exports.

McMurray learned to speak Korean while working there. He married a Korean. He's said that the Collins' ad is xenophobic. He shared this on Twitter yesterday:

"I watched that ugly attack ad with my son. His mom is Korean. My son speaks Korean. He looked at me with a grave sadness on his face. He felt what I felt. Neither of us said a word."

Collins was arrested Aug. 3 and charged with securities fraud. A few days later he suspended his campaign. Earlier this week, he announced he would not cooperate with GOP efforts to remove his name from the ballot in November and then announced he would resume actively campaigning for reelection. As far as we know, he made his first public appearance in the district today in Newstead. About the event, he tweeted

It's great to be back on the campaign trail meeting with constituents across NY-27. Voters have a clear choice in November. We must keep this seat in Republican hands to continue advancing President Trump's America first agenda.

September 22, 2018 - 12:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Larry Piegza, NY-27.

Press release:

“Everyone knows Chris Collins will not do a good job representing NY27 from a jail cell. He is not going to care about getting a great Farm Bill or making the middle-class tax cuts permanent while contemplating up to a 150-year jail sentence,” Larry Piegza said.

“Republicans who want to vote for an ethical pro-Trump candidate should vote NY Reform Party this year. I have offered to give my congressional salary to charity after I pay for my Washington, D.C., expenses just because I want to show voters that I am not in this for the money.”

The NY Reform Party chose to break from tradition this year and not endorse Chris Collins due to the fact that the Office of Congressional Ethics had “substantial reason to believe” that he had broken the law. Collins was found to have tried to pass legislation in Congress designed to help his company, Innate Immunotherapeutics.

This turned out to be a sound decision as Collins was arrested on a different charge related insider trading concerning the same company.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if a quarter of the Republican Party votes Reform Party in this district this year," stated Charlie Flynn of the Reform Party selection process before Collins’ arrest. "We have the better conservative candidate.”

Recently, Piegza spoke on NPR with Evan Dawson and at “Left, Right and Center,” a political discussion group at the Orchard Park Presbyterian Church. After this appearance, he has seen donations to his campaign pick up. His campaign currently has $220,000 available, double the amount that the Democrat Nate McMurray has on hand. He anticipates that that number will grow if he can get either candidate to debate him.

“I understand why Chris Collins won’t debate me, he has to prepare for his trial and never met with his district since he took office," Piegza said. "What I can’t figure out why Nate seems to have changed from his #DebateNate stance to #NeverDebate.

"I offered to debate him in Batavia two weeks ago. Some reporter should ask him why he won’t. This is an interesting contrast to the fact that I am advocating for an online town hall, where residents can contact me 24/7.”

September 19, 2018 - 4:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, Nate McMurray, notify.

Rep. Chris Collins announced on Twitter today that he will "actively" seek reelection to the NY-27 seat he's held through three terms despite being under federal indictment for alleged securities fraud, wire fraud and lying to the FBI.

Collins released his statement in a graphic. Below is the graphic:


Below is a response from Nate McMurray, who is challenging Collins in the November election:

Nate McMurray, the Democratic and Working Families Party Candidate for New York’s 27th Congressional District, reacted to today’s news that indicted member of Congress and master insider trader Chris Collins would suspend suspending his campaign.
“It looks like the criminal is returning to the scene of the crime – and I’m not just talking about insider trading, lying to the FBI and everything else he’s been accused of – I mean the derelict(ion) of duty he did by ignoring his constituents and their interests for every second of his elected life.

"I’m curious to know what Mr. Collins means by ‘actively campaign’ because he hasn’t talked to his constituents, hasn’t held town halls, and has been hiding in his penthouse since the FBI arrested him. Now he thinks that the voters of this district who are getting hurt by a trade war, are struggling to make ends meet, and know that Washington is more corrupt than ever, he thinks they’re going to trust him? Give me a break. He looks out for himself. And maybe his donors.

"Chris Collins has been charged with a crime. He can’t buy his way back into his job.

"Chris Collins thinks the rules don’t apply to him. They do.

"Chris Collins represents everything that’s wrong with Washington.

"Chris, if you’re listening from Manhattan, here are a few words you may remember, ‘lock him up’ ‘drain the swamp’. I hear your next court appearance is on October 11. I bet some folks from NY-27 may take a road trip.

"In the meantime, I welcome you on the campaign trail, sir. Bring it.”

September 17, 2018 - 1:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify, Nate McMurray.

Rep. Chris Collins, the three-term congressman representing the NY-27 who was arrested on insider trading charges, will remain on the ballot in the November election.

Collins, in contradiction with prior statements, has decided not to cooperate with the efforts of GOP leaders in the district to have his name removed from the ballot and replaced by a new candidate.

Below is the only statement released by the Collins' campaign about the decision:

“Because of the protracted and uncertain nature of any legal effort to replace Congressman Collins we do not see a path allowing Congressman Collins to be replaced on the ballot.”

Statement by Mark Braden, legal counsel for Rep. Chris Collins

GOP county chairs were scheduled to meet tomorrow in Albany to select the person they hoped would replace Collins. WBTA reached Genesee County Chair Dick Siebert this afternoon and he said he was as surprised by the sudden of plans as everybody else.

In response to the news of the decision, Nate McMurray, running as the Democratic opponent to Collins in the election, released the following statement:

Today, Nate McMurray, the Democratic and Working Families Party Candidate for New York’s 27th Congressional District, responded to the breaking news that his opponent, indicted Congressman Chris Collins, the first Member of Congress to endorse President Trump, will remain on the ballot despite long-pushed rumors that he would removed before November.

This morning several local news outlets reported and local Republican leaders confirmed that Congressman Collins, on advice from his attorneys, will choose to remain on the ballot.

“Well, it’s nice to finally know who I’m running against. But, in truth, we always knew we were running against Chris Collins. There are laws for a reason. There is accountability in our society for a reason. And in the greatest democracy in the world, voters weren’t going to take this kind of sham switching around names on a ballot at the whims of local party bosses,” McMurray said.

“I credit the people of Western New York for standing up in town after town saying ‘don’t force him on the ballot in my town.’ They saw through this fraud. They weren’t going to fall for the bait-and-switch strategy by the same team that endorsed, celebrated, took pictures with and defended Chris Collins.

“There is an incredible grassroots movement in NY-27. Like me, the voters want to Fight Like Hell against the political machine that has let them down for so long. They like that I’m an underdog. Every day when I’m out meeting voters, we talk about affordable, accessible healthcare for all, defending Social Security, investing in our infrastructure, protecting our farms. But in this region, we’re still always talking about corruption. Voters have a chance to end that once and for all in NY-27 and I’m excited for the next 50 days.”

McMurray heard the news as he was on stage opening his new office headquarters, his fourth in two months, standing with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez. Chairman Perez announced the news to a raucous crowd of more than 120 volunteers and supporters as he announced that the DNC was “all in” for Nate’s campaign.

September 15, 2018 - 8:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nate McMurray, NY-27, news, notify.


Standing in front of about 100 members of the Democratic Party -- volunteers who signed up walk precincts on his behalf -- Nate McMurray, candidate for Congress, said something you might find surprising: Donald Trump is right about a few things.

"Let's be honest, a lot of people voted for Donald Trump because they knew they needed help," McMurray said. "It was a Hail Mary. They felt like there wasn't a party representing them and maybe they needed somebody on the outside to say, 'hey, I can shake the system up.'

"I'm going to tell you something to a lot of people in the Democratic Party will not say," McMurray added. "Mr. Trump may be a master salesman. He may be a lot of things but his message was right in many respects. The message of the fact that a lot of Americans get left behind or forgotten about."

Many of Trump's voters are now disappointed in Trump, McMurray suggested, because he hasn't delivered on his promises.

"The problem is, Mr. Trump's message has been nothing but bluster," McMurray said. "He's is not doing anything to help people in this country. We hear about a booming economy but do you think the people here in this part of the region or the people in Attica, do you think they feel things are booming and moving and things are going great?"

McMurray promised not only to fight for jobs if elected, including opposing bad trade deals, but to support health care for all, protect Social Security, and follow through on a campaign promise Trump seems to have forgotten: infrastructure.

"Within 60 days in office, we will present a joint infrastructure bill in the house," McMurray said.

Right now, it's unclear who McMurray is running against. The man he planned to beat, Rep. Chris Collins, is under federal indictment on insider trading charges. The Erie County businessman continues as the singular target in McMurray's crosshairs, at least until, and if, the GOP NY-27 chairs are able to remove Collins from the ballot and replace him with another nominee.

Next week, Democratic Party Chair Tom Perez is going to visit the NY-27 but there was a time in McMurray's congressional quest, he said, when the party bosses told him he couldn't possibly beat Chris Collins and he should save his political capital for another fight, he said he told them Collins needed to be taken out.

"I said no someone has to stand up to Chris," McMurray said. "We know he has an ethics violation. We know he has this history of saying 'I only represent my constituents who are my donors.' He had this horrible record and all knew his record even before he was a congressman. We knew about his record when he was county executive when he would fire people and defund libraries and defund all kinds of projects important to the community just because he felt like it."

There was only one person in Washington, D.C., back then willing to encourage McMurray's run, said: Louise Slaughter.

It was Slaughter, he said, who wanted to know if McMurray would "fight like hell," which has become the campaign motto. 

"She said something else," McMurray said. "She said, 'this man has used the house of the people not to do people's business but to make money for himself and his family. Are you ready to stand up against that?' and I said yes and she said, 'Will you stand on his neck?' She said that.

"Now that's mean and it sounds tough but there comes time for accountability. It is time for accountability, not just for Collins but for the entire party that supported him."



September 12, 2018 - 5:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

The GOP chairs in the NY-27 will apparently meet soon now that a way has been found to remove the name of Chris Collins from the ballot in the race for the NY-27 congressional seat.

Collins dropped out of the race after being arrested Aug. 3 for alleged insider trading. He is charged with securities fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI.

Dick Siebert, the Genesee County chair for the GOP, said he can't disclose any details and that he doesn't even know all of the details.

"I received a call from a source in Erie County and was led to believe that we will get Collins' name off the ballot with the opportunity to replace him with another candidate," Siebert said.

Siebert doesn't know yet when the GOP chairs will meet to discuss this latest development or pick a replacement candidate.

Both the Democrats and the Reform Party have candidates in the race. Nate McMurray, the Democrat, has issued statements blasting the Republicans for any attempt to remove Collins from the ballot and Larry Piegza has issued statements arguing he is the logical pick for the GOP chairs since he's a Trump supporter. Piegza has expressed frustration that none of the GOP chairs will even return his calls.

There are at least eight people vying for the GOP selection, including Batavia's own Steve Hawley, whom Siebert said he favors.

Whatever scheme the Republicans use to remove Collins from the ballot, the Democrats have vowed to fight it in the courts.

September 12, 2018 - 11:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nate McMurray, NY-27, alexander.

Press release:

Join us on Saturday, Sept. 15th, at Alexander Fire Hall for lunch and a rally! Meet Nate McMurray and hear his inspirational message for New York's 27th Congressional District!

A year and a half ago, we drew an excited crowd of neighbors from across the 27th District who came together to stand up against Chris Collins. Since then, the energy has only increased. Many of us have met and been working for McMurray, and we're getting together again because we need your help and he needs to win. The 27th needs a representative who cares!

Fire hall event is 12-2 p.m.; canvassing happens afterward in various parts of the district. You can choose which part you'd like to canvass with a partner. One person can drive, one can knock doors, or you can knock doors together!

Lunch is provided by the Alexander Fire Department Auxiliary. It is $6/person and is chicken, tuna, or egg salad sandwich; macaroni salad; chips; cookie; pop or water. Alexander Fire Hall is located at 10708 Alexander Road, Attica.

September 11, 2018 - 10:27am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, Nate McMurray.

Press release:

Nate McMurray, the Democratic and Working Families Party candidate for New York’s 27th Congressional District, released the following statement after Congressman Chris Collins broke his silence one month after suspending his campaign when he was indicted on charges of insider trading.

“Tonight voters heard from a man who has lost the public trust. Congressman Collins played the victim, has refused to resign from Congress and tonight expressed surprise that the rules do, in fact, apply to him.

“Mr. Collins admitted that this ballot bait and switch, ‘has never been done before’ and there’s a very clear reason: it’s undemocratic, it’s wrong, it’s insulting to voters, and it’s a joke. Most importantly, it’s illegal and will not stand. Our laws exist for a reason and party bosses don’t get to change them just because their candidate was indicted.

“The truth is that Mr. Collins is willing to be a sham candidate, willing to dupe voters by running for whatever position these kingmaking ‘powers that be’ can manipulate the easiest.

 “I’ve been crisscrossing the district and talking to the voters Mr. Collins pledged to represent and the truth is that they’re angry, they feel betrayed, and they don’t want to trust the system that knew about these allegations and propped up Mr. Collins anyway.”

In other NY-27 news, the deputy chief of staff for Collins, Michael Kracker, has resigned and taken a job with Unshackle Upstate as executive director.

September 7, 2018 - 1:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

The House Ethics Committee has announced it will convene a special panel to investigate Rep. Chris Collins and his alleged insider trading activities as a member of Congress.

The investigation will be led by Rep. Mimi Walters, a Republican from California but will not begin until federal criminal proceedings against Collins have run their course.

Collins was arrested Aug. 3 and accused of securities fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI.

The Erie County businessman is accused of calling his son, Cameron Collins, with a stock tip after receiving word, as a member of the board of Innate Innate Immunotherapeutics, that a drug under development to treat secondary multiple sclerosis had failed a key clinical trial.

After receiving the call, according to Federal documents, Cameron began selling his holdings in Innate after receiving the call but before the news of the failed trail had been released to the public, as well as calling other friends and family to share the news with them. As a result, the group of stockholders reportedly sold off more than 1.4 million shares of stock.

According to House rules, the Ethics Committee must open an investigation anytime a member of Congress is arrested. Politico reported its unusual for the committee, which is controlled by Republicans, to announce an investigation so close to mid-term elections.

The committee will also investigate Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican representing Eastern San Diego County, including El Cajon. Hunter is accused, like his father, who held the same seat for 21 years prior to his son, of using campaign funds for personal expenses. Collins and Hunter where the first two members of Congress to endorse Donald Trump during the GOP primaries.

September 4, 2018 - 3:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nate McMurray, chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.


Nate McMurray thinks the president should take a positive interest in his campaign for Congress.

After Donald J. Trump sent out a highly controversial tweet yesterday blasting his attorney general for prosecuting criminal cases against Rep. Chris Collins and Rep. Duncan Hunter, McMurray responded with two tweets of his own. 

Hey, @potus popular? Around here @RepChrisCollins is about as popular as Lyme Disease. You need to pick better friends, maybe someone who actually has a clue about helping working families...Call me.

The Batavian asked, via text message, for McMurray to clarify his statement, McMurray said, "Just like I said. He's picking the wrong people. The wrong policies. If the President is really interested in helping the people here, and not just talking about it, I want him to be successful."

He then added, "I can help."

Collins was arrested by federal agents a month ago on charges of securities fraud, wire fraud and lying to the FBI. The NY-27 representative is accused of disclosing to his son confidential information about Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd. Collins served on the board of directors in 2017 and was notified in June of that year that a key clinical trial had failed. The call by Collins to Cameron Collins allegedly sparked a series of stock trades where Cameron, other family members, and associates dumped 1.4 million shares of the company's stock.

Hunter (who represents the eastern part of San Diego County, including El Cajon, filling a seat once held by his father) is accused of using campaign funds for personal expenses (a non-criminal accusation also levied in 1989 against his father). 

Contrary to Trump's claim in his tweet, neither investigation began during the Obama years. Both investigations started after Trump became president. In fact, the trigger for the investigation into Collins was Cameron's highly suspicious pattern of trades in June 2017, which led to investigators discovering the phone call made by Collins from the lawn of the Trump White House.

Two days after vowing to fight the charges and remain in the campaign for reelection at a press conference where he refused to take questions, Collins suspended his campaign. He promised to cooperate in an effort to get his name off the November ballot. So far, the eight GOP county chairs of the NY-27 haven't announced how they intend to get Collins off the ballot and there's even doubt among the chairs that it can be done.

The presidential tweet about the Collins arrest also prompted a press release from McMurray. He wrote:

“President Trump just acknowledged what we all know: what was long considered a slam-dunk election for Congressman Collins is now in doubt and the reasoning is clear – Congressman Collins spent more time worrying about making millions for his buddies than he did helping working families in Western New York,” McMurray said.

“The FBI finally confirmed what so many of us in Western New York know – that the system is corrupt. Now the same party officials that knew of Congressman Collins’ conduct want to fool voters into believing that they can pull a bait and switch to put someone new on the ballot. They want a mulligan. This isn’t democracy, this is fraud and the voters I meet as I crisscross the district won’t stand for it.

“I’m putting party politics aside to stand up for the working men and women of Western New York. I was proud to stand with many of them this Labor Day and I’ll be proud to work on their behalf in Congress.”

On Twitter, McMurray often portrays himself as fighting for the middle-class, working families of Western New York; however, where he aligns with Trump on issues is hard to say.

In a July 14 Tweet, McMurray he said:

Later in the month, he was critical of Collins' support of Trump's trade agenda, tweeting

TARIFFS ARE TAXES. My opponent supports them. I support smart trade, leveraging our strength to gain access to key foreign markets. We need to sell to more people. We don’t need to put up a barrier to the world and hide.

However, an email exchange with The Batavian on July 30, McMurray said Trump was 100 percent right in his assertion that the U.S. is being taken advantage of by trading partners. The Batavian had asked McMurray if he would seek the aid from the Koch Network, which is backing Democrats this cycle who support free trade. McMurray said he wouldn't, citing his agreement with the president that the world is taking advantage of the United States.

"We can’t bury our head in the sand," McMurray said. "We need to engage with the world. We just can’t do it the way we have done it, by getting taken advantage of and being willing to leverage our bargaining power."

One of the fears or Trump-supporting Republicans is that if the Democrats win control of the House in the mid-term elections, they will quickly move to impeach Donald Trump. McMurray has indicated on social media that he is not an automatic vote for impeachment.


McMurray has campaigned across the district since the arrest of Collins but has completely skipped over Genesee County during the past four weeks. Yesterday, he missed the Labor Daze parade in Oakfield.

Trump's Labor Day tweet has been criticized by both Republicans and Democrats as an attack on the criminal justice system and an attempt to subvert the rule of law.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who presented Genesee County in Congress before losing her seat to Collins in 2012 joined the chorus of boos this morning.

August 29, 2018 - 8:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

There has yet to be another meeting scheduled of GOP chairs in the New York 27th Congressional District and Genesee County's GOP chairman, Dick Siebert, isn't feeling overly optimistic that the chairs will find a way to get the name of Chris Collins off the November ballot.

Collins, the two-term congressman for the NY-27, suspended his campaign a month ago after being arrested by federal authorities for allegedly providing an illegal stock tip to his son, Cameron Collins.

"I’ve got of got a feeling that he’s not coming off the ballot but what do I know," Siebert said. "How it looks at this stage is, he’s on the ballot."

Siebert hasn't heard anything from the other chairs since the eight of them from the district met with potential candidates to replace Collins a week ago. 

There have apparently been attempts to find a ballot line for Collins in a more diminutive seat in a town in Erie County, but as the Clarence Bee reports, those efforts aren't being embraced by local town officials.

Siebert said he isn't surprised.

"He’s pretty toxic," Siebert said. "I’m sure some town boards wouldn’t want anything to do with this."

All of that wrangling, though, Siebert said, is for others to worry about. Collins said he will cooperate with any effort to get his name removed from the NY-27 ballot, which Siebert said he is counting on, and then it's up to the attorneys to figure out how to do it in a way that will withstand a legal challenge by Democrats. As far as Siebert's concerned, the only job of the GOP chairs is to pick a replacement for Collins if his name is removed.

"If we do anything, let's find the best candidate, at least," Siebert said. "Let's try to find the best one if the opportunity presents itself and if it doesn't, well, then, we did our best to try and be ready."

There are reportedly still eight GOP hopefuls. Siebert noted that only one remains from Genesee County, Steve Hawley.

"I've lost two candidates, (David) Bellavia and (Mike) Ranzenhofer but I've still got one candidate and I think highly of him," Siebert said. "I thought Steve and Ranzenhofer both did very well and were both very highly rated by our group."

While Ranzenhofer has withdrawn his name from consideration, Hawley told The Batavian yesterday that he's waiting for the process to play out, at least for now.

August 28, 2018 - 6:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, NY-27, news, notify.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley is doing pretty much what the rest of us in the 27th Congressional District are doing -- waiting to see if the regional GOP leadership can come up with a plan to remove the name of Chris Collins from the November general election ballot.

If that happens, he hopes the GOP chairs will select him as the Republican candidate for Congress to replace Collins, currently under federal indictment on counts of securities fraud and lying to the FBI about an alleged insider trading scheme.

"I know nothing more than when we met last Tuesday," Hawley said, referring to a confab of GOP chairs from the eight counties in the NY-27 at Batavia Downs. At the gathering, the candidates hoping to replace Collins on the ballot were interviewed. "We each gave a presentation. We talked about how each of us viewed what a congressman should be, we reviewed backgrounds, reviewed finances, reviewed whether we’re ready to go or not, which I am, and I haven’t heard anything since then."

David Bellavia, the other Batavia resident who considered a run for Congress if the GOP chairs could get the Collins name off the ballot, withdrew his name before Tuesday's meeting. Mike Ranzenhofer, the state senator for Genesee County, withdrew his name yesterday.

Hawley is by no means certain the county chairs have figured out a plan for getting the current congressman's name off the ballot.

"I have to say, the longer this goes on the chances of A) getting his name off B) having the court challenges, which there will be, makes me more and more happy that I’m running for reelection to the state Assembly," Hawley said. "If the process doesn’t heat up here pretty quickly, I’m going to be serving, hopefully, another term in the state Assembly."

That isn't to be read, apparently, that Hawley has any intention anytime soon of withdrawing his name from consideration. He wouldn't say that when pressed on the question, or at what point he might decide to withdraw.

"We'll play it by ear," he said.

Hawley said residents of the 139th Assembly District have been wholly supportive of his request to be considered for the Republican line on the November ballot in the congressional race.

"I’ve received nothing but encouragement from the moment Mr. Collins suspended his campaign and, as I mentioned before, all kinds of emails, all kinds of Facebook posts, all kinds of personal visits from constituents," Hawley said. "This is all about people I’ve been able to serve the past 12 and a half years. They’re the ones who encouraged me to look at it and that’s what I try to model myself after, what people want."

August 27, 2018 - 11:17am
posted by Howard B. Owens in michael ranzenhofer, NY-27, news.

Press release:

"After a great deal of reflection, and consultation with my family, friends, and community over the last several days, I am removing myself from consideration in the search to find a replacement candidate for the 27th Congressional District. I’m not giving up this opportunity lightly, but the decision is easier because there are so many other qualified candidates. These last few weeks have been a whirlwind. It has been an honor to have been asked by so many to consider a run for Congress.

"The chairmen and chairwomen who will make this very important decision have been thrust into unchartered waters and a very difficult situation. They have taken their responsibilities seriously and have been very thoughtful and deliberative. No other group of individuals is better able to handle this challenge. I want to commend those who have answered the call. Many are my friends, some are my colleagues, and each would make an exceptional member of Congress. Each has strengths and weaknesses which have to be carefully weighed by the chairs charged with finding a solution.

"These last few weeks have been quite an experience for which I am grateful and will always remember. I wish the eight chairs Godspeed as they work their way through this process. All candidates seeking to become the next Congressional Representative are to be commended for accepting this challenge. I wish them good luck and will wholeheartedly support whoever is chosen.

"It was an honor to have been asked by so many to consider this opportunity. I am blessed with the opportunity to serve the residents of Erie, Genesee and Monroe counties and look forward to continuing to represent them in the New York State Senate." 

August 27, 2018 - 11:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nate McMurray, NY-27.

Press release:

In the two weeks since Congressman Chris Collins was indicted by the FBI, Nate McMurray’s campaign for New York’s 27th  Congressional District has steamed ahead with huge momentum.

Nate McMurray, the current Grand Island supervisor and Democratic and Working Families Party candidate for Congress, has run nonstop across the 27th District, meeting with hundreds of voters, doubling the number of volunteers helping his campaign, making key staff hires, and raising more than $100,000 in just a few days.

“I’ve spent the last seven months crisscrossing the district talking to voters and I can tell you that there was always a palpable grassroots energy but now it’s absolutely booming,” McMurray said. “Everywhere I go, I meet voters of all parties and I’ll tell you what I hear: they tell me that the system is broken.

"They feel ripped off by politicians who abuse their power and feel insulted by party bosses playing kingmaker. They use the word ‘corrupt’ and they’re right. Every day I hear them say that the system isn’t working for them and that want a real change.&rdquo

“The energy here in the 27th District is electrifying,” said Campaign Manager Victoria Dillon, Western New York native and an alumna of the Obama Administration, Iowa Caucuses and Capitol Hill, where she helped Congresswoman Louise Slaughter pass the STOCK Act to stop insider trading in Congress. “The campaign’s growing, Nate’s everywhere and voters are listening.”

In the two weeks since Congressman Collins was indicted:

McMurray has crisscrossed the 27th District eight times.

McMurray's campaign has received more than $100k in donations in the past two weeks from thousands of contributors.

McMurray's campaign has more than doubled the number of volunteers in our movement to get him elected to Congress.

McMurray's campaign has hired two additional staffers including Amherst-native Victoria Dillon as campaign manager.

Local leaders have publicly cheered Nate on including: Former Congressman John LaFalce, former WKBW anchor Susan Banks, and Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.

McMurray has received huge support from the labor community including: the United Steelworkers, Service Employees International Union 1199 and the New York State United Teachers.

That adds to his support from the Western New York Area Labor Federation, New York State AFL-CIO, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1342, United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local One, Communication Workers of America, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades and United Auto Workers.

In Ontario County: McMurray walked into a standing-room-only crowd in Farmington, a town that hadn't had an established Democratic committee until six months ago.

In Livingston County, he talked to more than 100 voters in Hemlock.

In Wyoming County: the day after Congressman Collins was indicted, our expected crowd doubled at a house party in Silver Springs.

McMurray has held rallies and barnstorms and house parties in Avon, Clarence, Canandaigua, Hemlock, Farmington and Silver Springs and received support from friends and neighbors at events in Grand Island, Amherst, and Buffalo.

He drove in the World’s Largest Demolition Derby at the Erie County Fair and attending the Wyoming County Fair.

He has conducted more than 30 national and local media interviews and held four press conferences.

About Nate McMurray

Nate McMurray is a native of North Tonawanda. He is one of seven children raised by his widowed mother when his father died of cancer at the age of 39. Nate worked his way through community college, earned a bachelor’s degree at SUNY-Buffalo, then went on to law school and a successful career in business.

For the last two years, he’s served as town supervisor of Grand Island, a conservative community in Western New York, where he has been instrumental in bringing fiscal responsibility to local government and millions of dollars in new business investment to the town. For more on Nate McMurray and his campaign for Congress in NY-27, visit www.votemcmurray.com.

August 18, 2018 - 6:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, andrew young, batavia, news, NY-27.


Assemblyman Steve Hawley's pitch to the committee of eight selecting the possible GOP candidate to replace Rep. Chris Collins on the November ballot got the support of Andrew Young today.

Young grabbed a couple of Hawley signs from his garage and replaced "Assembly" with "Congress" and stuck the signs in front of his business, Reliant Reality, on West Main.

Young said he made the signs on his own with "no input or awareness on Steve's part. I did it because I think he is the best man for the job. He has proven to be an effective advocate for our community and he has lived up to the highest level of integrity. Perhaps more important than anything right now, we could use some old-fashioned integrity."

UPDATE: Michael Pullinzi did it first out on Route 98, which Young noted when we spoke about his signs.


Young submitted the top photo, Pullinzi​ the bottom photo.

August 16, 2018 - 8:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, David Bellavia, news, NY-27, notify.


The eight men who met with GOP party leaders in Geneseo yesterday to discuss their interest in replacing Chris Collins as the Republican nominee in the 27th Congressional District were met by a group of reporters as they walked into the meeting, including two hopefuls from Batavia, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, and Iraq War veteran David Bellavia.

Both Hawley and Bellavia stuck to an upbeat message about serving the district and noting the voters in the 27th are perhaps a little tired of scandal from their representative in Washington.

"We got to bring dignity back," Bellavia said. "These people (in the NY-27) have been through a lot. I mean, it's our second time around."

Bellavia was referring to Rep. Chris Lee, who was accused of posting shirtless pictures of himself on Craigslist while looking for transexual dates, and Rep. Chris Collins, currently under indictment on charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI.

"We've got to put that behind us and get a candidate that the people can get behind," Bellavia said. "Vitality is important and the Republican Party needs to bring energy back. You start by registering more Republicans and get more people to join the committees. That's the kind of a model that I'm bringing to the table and that's what I'm proud to represent."

Collins has bowed out of the race for 2018 -- a critical mid-term election for the GOP to try and retain a majority in the House of Representatives -- and now the Republicans are scrambling to figure out a legal way to get Collins off the November ballot, pick a new candidate and get that candidate's campaign up and running. All under the assumption that after the Collins fiasco, the Democrats are coming hard after this seat, fully funding Nate McMurray's effort to switch the 27th from red to blue.

Under the circumstances, Hawley suggested, the voters of the NY-27 are ready for an experienced representative with the maturity to handle the job.

"They've had a long, long road over the past eight to 10 years," Hawley said. "This is about representing people and having a feel for what it is they need and I think what they need is a calm, steady, firm hand and the ability to be able to listen to what their needs, wants and desires."

With a short campaign window, Hawley said he can raise the funds needed for the campaign, and though he can't afford to self-fund, he can make a contribution.

"I am a prolific fundraiser and the vice chairman of the Republican Campaign Committee and I have a healthy amount in my Friends of Steve Hawley account," Hawley said. "Where we should be looking is for small donations and contributions from people who think you would be able to do the job for them. Whether it's 10 dollars, 25 dollars, 50 bucks, that's really what America is all about."

Fundraising will be a challenge, Bellavia said but he also said it's going to take a lot of hard work to win the race.

"It's an 80-day election cycle," Bellavia said. "Everyone's worried about funding. The D Triple C is going to put in a lot of money into this campaign and you've got a guy out there in Grand Island -- who ... he's going to need a real estate agent to be your congressman -- but he's working his tail off. He's a good guy who's out there working hard and it's going to take a lot of elbow grease to be able to defeat him."

Hawley and Bellavia were showing up for kind of a candidates forum with 17 party leaders from the NY-27. This wasn't the formal interview with the eight county chairs nor were any decisions made about who to support as the party's nominee.

Also attending were Erie County Legislator Ed Rath, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, Assemblyman Ray Walter, State Senator Robert Ortt, former gubernatorial candidate and former Buffalo school board member Carl Paladino, and State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer.

Bellavia said the party bosses should pick the right person for the job, not somebody who just wants the title of congressman.

"My whole life has been about service," Bellavia said. "I mean, we were electing a congressman. Why are we doing this? Are we doing this for ourselves? Are we doing this because we're bored? Or are we doing this because it's our time and you know we held the position before but this one's really super juicy? Are we doing this because we want to serve our country? I believe that this country is worthy of any sacrifice and if I'm called to duty I'm going answer that duty you know."

Hawley also said the short election time frame will mean he needs to work hard if he's selected to represent the party but, he said, that isn't any different than what he does every election cycle.

"I have campaigned door-to-door in this Assembly District and before that for the county legislature, door-to-door all of the time," Hawley said. "Last time I didn't have an opponent. I didn't like that. I think people deserve a choice. And even though I had no opponent I still went door-to-door. Some people would say, 'What the heck you're doing here?' And I said, 'I'm here to ask for your support and listen to those questions you might have.' So, whether we've got an opponent or not, whether they're well-financed, whether they're well known, it's all about the people."

Top composite photo: Steve Hawley on the left, and David Bellavia.

Audio and images provided by our news partner, 13WHAM. For their story about the event, click here.

August 15, 2018 - 12:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, chris collins, news.

Press release:

The Democratic Committee Chairs of the eight counties that make up NY-27 conferred together last night by conference call as their GOP counterparts met and failed to concoct a way to get Chris Collins off the November ballot.

After their conversation, the Democrats of the district reaffirmed that there was no legitimate way to change candidates now. Any attempt to do so would be a fraud against the voters of this district.

"Just like Chris Collins believed that rules against insider trading did not apply to him, local Republican bosses seem to think that election law doesn't apply to them when it suddenly becomes inconvenient," said Cindy Appleton, the Democratic chair of Wyoming County. "They don't get to do a do-over months after the deadline for changing the congressional ballot has passed, even if the man they insisted on being their candidate inconveniently got arrested and faces up to 150 years in jail."

The Ontario County Democratic Committee Chair John Hurley pointed out that the GOP bosses were all in for Chris Collins until a week ago, despite the fact that Collins was already under a congressional ethics investigation because of his questionable financial dealings. They ignored pointed critiques of his conduct, such as those launched by the late Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY 25), and did everything possible to smooth the path for Collins' reelection campaign.

"There were all sorts of red flags being raised about Collins, but GOP bosses didn't care," Hurley said. "They had a choice, remember. Frank Smierciak II submitted petition signatures to run in a Republican primary, and they succeeded in getting him thrown off the primary ballot to benefit Collins. They also tried to run an obvious fake Green Party candidate to split the anti-Collins vote, a move they didn't get away with."

Hurley added, "they won't get away with this move, either. They don't just get to change the ballot that was set under the rules because it now suits them. It's blatantly clear that they only care about Chris Collins' ethical issues this week because he got caught last week."

Jeremy Zellner, the Erie County Democratic chair, said that there were good reasons that the GOP hadn't yet been able to announce any way of removing Collins from the ballot.

"They're flailing," Zellner said. "There isn't a legitimate path to do what they want to do, so they keep telling us they're going to get him taken off, but they haven't been able to tell us how yet."

Zellner went on to say that there is case law that states that candidates can't simply move out of state and get off the ballot.

"It didn't work for Tom DeLay after he was indicted in 2006, and it won't work for Chris Collins when he was indicted in 2018," Zellner said.

He also noted that the town of Clarence where Collins resides has no local offices up for election this year, so that Republican bosses would have to force a current town officeholder to retire just to create a vacancy for an accused criminal -- who would be unlikely to have any real interest in serving in that smaller office -- to run for.

"And they can't just put him up for some office somewhere else," Zellner said. "He's under multiple indictments He has no interest in these other positions. It's dishonest and disgraceful."

Judith Hunter, the Livingston County chair, declared, "Nate McMurray played by the rules and will be our candidate in November. The Republicans are trying all kinds of backroom maneuvers to ditch a suddenly vulnerable candidate who has become embarrassing for them. That doesn't change the fact that he is the candidate they chose and cleared the way for.

"And it doesn't change the fact that election law is clear that the deadline for changing the federal ballot has passed. They can parade people they might desperately prefer to accused criminal Chris Collins in front of the press, but they can't ignore the law."

August 15, 2018 - 6:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.


Republicans are confident they can ensure the name of Rep. Chris Collins is not on the November general election ballot, Erie County Chairman Nick Langworthy said Tuesday night after a closed-door meeting of the eight GOP chairs in the NY-27 at Batavia Downs.

He didn't say, however, how the might get the task done. He went no further than promising that Collins, in the midst of fighting federal allegations that he engaged in insider stock trading, will cooperate with whatever method the party tries to implement. 

"We have communicated back and forth through his team but I have not directly personally spoken to him," Langworthy said. "We are confident there are mechanisms in place where his name can be removed from the ballot and we can nominate a new candidate."

Collins didn't face a challenger in the June 26 primary for the NY-27 but he committed to the race at an even earlier date. Once petitions were gathered, he had until April 16 to decline the nomination and the party had until April 24 to fill the vacancy.

Three Methods to Remove Name from Ballot

That leaves three methods to remove his name from the November ballot: Disqualification by means of accepting another office, moving out of state, or death.

Collins reportedly has residential property in Florida he could declare his legal domicile and there are potentially town-level offices in Erie County with a vacancy he could fill.

Either move will almost certainly be challenged in court by the Democrats.

“The GOP chairs are in a very bad position," said Todd Aldinger, an Albany-based attorney who has researched the relevant law and served as chairman of the Erie County Charter Revision Commission and was Senator Patrick Gallivan’s legislative director.

"They will either have to rely on constitutionally dubious means to remove Collins from the ballot or will have to utilize provisions of the election law to circumvent the normal nomination procedure by nominating Collins for a manufactured vacancy, which a court may find to be void against public policy.”

In favor of the GOP effort to remove Collins is a 2008 case in the NY-26 race, which at the time included Genesee County. In the Matter of Kryzan v New York State Bd. of ElectionsJon Powers had won the Working Families Party line and Alice Kryzan was the Democratic nominee. Powers then moved out of state and after the ballot certification deadline Powers sought to have his name removed from the ballot and the WFP wanted to replace his name with Kryzan. A court ruled Power's name could be removed from the ballot and replaced by Kryzan.

That decision was later overturned because absentee voting had already started.A federal court ruled those voters who already received their ballots would be disenfranchised if Kryzan's name replaced Powers on the ballot.

The November ballot won't be certified until Sept. 13. Military ballots will go out in the mail Sept. 21. The GOP will, presumably, have until then to win any legal battle with the Democrats or they lose the fight and potentially the war.

To counter any GOP maneuver -- declaring Collins a resident of another state or appointing him to a dog catcher position in Erie County -- the Democrats might be able to counter that such a move has been made in bad faith or to circumvent the normal nomination process.

The relevant case law, however, isn't on point with this set of circumstances and has apparently not been tested before.

"We are very confident, consulting with what are some of the best election lawyers in the State of New York, that there are mechanisms in place to remove Congressman Collins from the ballot," Langworthy said.

Even before Langworthy met with the press outside of Batavia Downs, Michael Plitt, chairman of the Genesee County Democratic Committee, was texting The Batavian to decry the GOP chairman's efforts to remove Collins from the ballot.

"The GOP already picked their candidate, Chris Collins," Plitt said. "There are no do-overs. Petitions are in. Collins will be on the ballot. The GOP knew Collins had an ethics investigation."

That's a similar line of attack the Democratic nominee, Nate McMurray, is taking in tweets and news interviews.

Democrats Call for Accountability

"I think these guys should be held accountable," McMurray told The Hill. "They shouldn't be able to hit reset or take a mulligan. If they try to get him to run for another office, I will call it out for what it is: a fraud upon the United States."

While the statutory feathers fly, the eight GOP chairs of the NY-27 are moving ahead with the process of handpicking a new candidate. At one point, at least 15 people had expressed an interest in the seat but Tuesday night, Langworthy indicated the winnowing process has already begun. He said he expects there will be some more informal interviews to help determine who gets a chance to sit down with all eight county chairs and lobby for the nomination.

Those interviews will take place next week.

"We were handed the extraordinary situation that you know we're not happy to find ourselves in, but we have to work through it," Langworthy said. "We have to work together. We have to work collaboratively and we need to nominate a candidate that can succeed in all eight counties to deliver a victory in November."

The public won't be part of the committee process and voting will be weighted, which means Langworthy, representing Erie County, will have the biggest say in who potentially could appear on the R line in November.

It's a momentous selection.

Michael Caputo, a GOP political consultant, and nationally known Trump ally, told The Batavian just before news broke that Collins was withdrawing from the race, that the very future of the presidency may hinge on what happens in the NY-27.

"It may boil down to one or two seats," Caputo said. "If we lose control of the house, there will be impeachment proceedings, no doubt about it."

Erie County GOP's Questionable Candidates

Erie County, however, doesn't have a strong track record when it comes to picking representatives for the GLOW region.

Rep. Bill Paxon's career ended after he helped lead a failed attempt to oust Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House. Rep. Tom Reynolds didn't run for reelection after his name was linked to a couple of scandals in the House. Rep. Chris Lee posted a bare-chested picture of himself on Craigslist. Assemblywoman Jane Corwin lost a race generally thought to be hers to lose.

And now Chris Collins, federally indicted on counts of securities fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI. Collins was allegedly the tip of a tipping tree where he provided the crucial tidbit of bad news that caused his son, and eight other associates, to dump millions of shares of Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited before the Australia-based company publicly announced its only product, a drug to treat secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, had failed its critical medical trial.

Collins said he's not guilty.

Langworthy said none of the GOP chairs have expressed any dissatisfaction with the process that has led to this string of questionable GOP candidates being foisted on GLOW.

"I think it's a matter of the party rules," Langworthy said. "I think we work collaboratively. We're working together. Many of the candidates now hail from the GLOW region, so I didn't hear any sort of problems from any of the chairs here tonight about them."

Whoever gets the pick will instantly become the front-runner in a district that tilts +22 for Republicans, and barring the winner getting caught with his shirt off or making ill-advised stock trades, he is likely being appointed to the seat for life. The Batavian asked Langworthy if a process of eight men in a room, denying both candidates and voters the normal primary process to fill a vacancy, is the right process to follow.

"I'm going to ask you, do you think we want to be in the situation right now?" Langworthy said.

The Batavian asked, "is it fair?"

"I think it's a bush league question you asked," Langworthy said.

"So you don't want to answer it."

Langworthy: 'We Don't Want to Be Here.'

Langworthy responded, "I've already addressed this. We find ourselves in an extraordinary situation. We don't want to be here. This is a sad and unfortunate time for us. We are doing the best we can with the election law as it exists at this late date."

The choice for the chairs includes inexperienced candidates, candidates who have run a race but not won, or a slate of current office holders who would be forced to vacate a ballot line creating a new legal challenge for the party.

"I'll let you all decide who you think the front-runners are," Langworthy told the gaggle of assembled reporters from throughout the region. "We have a process to maintain. We have to continue to work together.

"You know there are candidates from throughout this district that represent different portions of this district. We're all dedicated the same thing, which is finding a conservative Republican candidate that can win this district and help President Trump achieve his agenda.

A bit later Langworthy said: "We need we need a candidate that we can all get behind in eight counties (who) can be out there meeting the voters, talking about the important issues. I mean it's a very geographically diverse district.

"I mean, you have cities, you have suburban towns, you also have a lot of rural and agricultural areas, so you have a lot of different types of people who (need to) get up to speed on federal issues. Even if they're a state official, they might not understand the federal ramifications. Those are things that we have to hit the ground running on very, very quickly."

It will be such a difficult race in such a compressed time frame that Langworthy doesn't think it's the place for novices to enter.

"I personally think that this is probably not the time for a completely new candidate, someone that doesn't understand the political process or maybe hasn't been a part of an election before in a big league level," Langworthy said. "I don't think there's a lot of time for a learning curve for a first-timer that hasn't been through the process."

White House Weighs in on Selection 

Langworthy also revealed that the White House is weighing in on the selection process.

"We're in consultation," Langworthy said. "Yesterday I had a meeting with the White House political director to discuss this race. We have been in discussions with the executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee. They are very concerned about the future of the seat. They want to make sure it stays in Republican hands."

Whoever gets the nod from the eight chairs, Langworthy said he hopes to attract Trump to WNY to campaign for the candidate.

"I came from Utica yesterday where I saw President Trump come in for a Congresswoman Tenny," Langworthy said. "It's a very hot seat and I know they raised an awful lot of funds in a short window. It was only a one week lead-up to the event and there were hundreds and hundreds of people there showing their support and writing checks to support the congresswoman. I would love to see that sort of enthusiasm with a presidential visit."

August 14, 2018 - 12:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, chris collins, Larry Piegza, news.

Press release:

Now that Chris Collins has withdrawn in the NY 27th District race, Larry Piegza is demanding to be considered for the Republican, Independent and Conservative Party endorsements. He has already earned the endorsement of the Reform Party in the June primary and is now looking to secure the other nominations as well.

“I’ve been trying to get support from the Republican Committees in this district since November and they won’t return my call. Even now that Chris Collins has been arrested they still won’t give me an interview. This is just another example of the corrupt, pay-for-play Republican committees not caring about their district.

“The District’s GOP establishment failed to admit that Collins was a criminal in the first place. Then also tried their failed election scam of getting the fake Green Party candidate Michael Zak on the ballot. I think it’s time that we voters demand an open process for choosing Collins’ replacement instead of letting the corrupt establishment tell us which crony we have to vote for next.

"I am only one of two candidates chosen by the fair election process and have already stated that I am willing to give up my entire congressional salary if I get elected. Instead of endorsing me, they are jumping through legal hoops to try to get their next establishment crony on the ballot. The voters don’t want a rigged election. If we are going to Make America Great Again, we have got to really drain the swamp at the district level as well," Piegza said.


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