Republican party leaders need to get indicted Rep. Chris Collins off the ballot in order to field a candidate — but a potential way to do so is controversial
Republican leaders want to replace indicted U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, with another candidate to maintain the 27th congressional seat for their party. “There are a few avenues that the legal team is looking at,” Livingston County GOP Chair John Pauer told The Buffalo News.
At least one of those avenues is raising concern, and opposition.
The probable scenario: Pressing Collins to run for a different, lesser position that would remove him from the 27th District ballot, making way for another candidate, since a person can't be on simultaneous ballots for different positions. Ten potential candidates for the 27th District seat — a district that includes the western half of Ontario County, including Canandaigua, Farmington and Victor — were due to address Republican party leaders in Batavia on Tuesday. A potential nominee could be selected later this week.
In the town of Eden, south of Buffalo in the eight-county district that includes part of Ontario County, former Town Councilman Ed Krycia blasted GOP maneuvers.
“Republicans have openly discussed the possibility of forcing an elected official in Clarence to resign in order for Collins to run for that position, thus removing him from the ballot in the 27th,” Krycia stated in a release. “Residents in Clarence gathered in protest against that scheme on Thursday night.”
Krycia mentioned two unexpected vacancies in the town of Eden, for town clerk and town assessor, noting those positions could be vulnerable to the plan.
“Eden is not a dumping ground for Republicans who are unfit to run for office and mired in scandal,” stated Krycia. “It’s the height of arrogance to assume that an entire town government is theirs to manipulate and control in this manner.”
“I don’t know what motivates Chris Collins or the GOP machine, but the interests of this town and its taxpayers clearly aren’t high on the list,” stated Eden town clerk candidate Debra Popple. “This is outrageous and we will not stand for it.”
Collins pleaded not guilty to charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI. Three days after being indicted Aug. 8 Collins suspended his re-election campaign. Collins had sought a fourth term in the heavily Republican district.
At a rally last week in Farmington, Democratic candidate Nate McMurray talked about Collins and the campaign. McMurray, who received unanimous support from the Democratic chairs of the eight-county district to challenge Collins, said he was initially discouraged from running for the 27th because many thought he didn’t stand a chance. That changed. He recalled a conversation he had with U.S. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, before she died earlier this year. Slaughter, the first woman to chair the House Rules Committee and one of the longest-serving Democrats in Congress, urged McMurray to run.
“We need to fight like hell. Collins has done something terrible and he is abusing his position and no one is taking him seriously,” McMurray recalled Slaughter telling him.
In a release last week, the district’s Democratic committee chairs issued a joint statement declaring there is “no legitimate way to change candidates now. Any attempt to do so would be a fraud against the voters of this district.”
A number of the committee chairs weighed in, including Ontario County Democratic Committee Chair John Hurley. He blasted “GOP bosses” for being “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.”
"There were all sorts of red flags being raised about Collins, but GOP bosses didn't care ... it’s blatantly clear that they only care about Chris Collins' ethical issues this week because he got caught last week," Hurley stated.
Democrats are expected to challenge any GOP move to replace Collins with a lawsuit.