Days ago, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), the first sitting member of Congress to endorse Trump’s presidential bid, was arrested and charged with alleged securities fraud, wire fraud and false statements. He was indicted, along with his son, for trading insider information about Australian biotech firm Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited, of which he sat on the board. His alleged crime saved himself and other co-conspirators $768,000 in losses, according to prosecutors.
Today, Collins announced that he was suspending his re-election campaign and will attempt to remove his name from the ballot.
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Per New York law, however, the process is not so simple. The only way to remove his name from the ballot, thereby allowing another Republican to take his place in this R+24 district, is if he moves to another state, runs for another office, or dies. Despite residences in Florida and Washington, D.C., moving to another state will certainly invite legal challenges, as it did in the case of Rep. Tom DeLay in 2006 (R-TX). Running for another office would complicate things for the Republicans already on the ballot in other races, such as local judgeships.
Republicans can mount a write-in challenge, although launching such a campaign is difficult in a good year, which 2018 is not for the GOP.
Another option is that voters could still elect Collins in his district despite a suspended campaign. Should he get elected, he could resign and a special election would be called, during which he would likely be replaced by a new Republican candidate given the 40,000 Republican-voter advantage in the district. The likelihood that voters elect a man who was just arrested by the FBI, however, is not stellar.
In other words, Collins’ Democratic opponent, Nate McMurray, the supervisor of Grand Island, is suddenly in a very good position in what should have been an easy seat for Republicans.
“It helps Western New York because we won’t have someone like that who will embarrass us in Congress again,” McMurray said. “It would have been a travesty for him to go forward with his campaign. I don’t know who they’re going to run, but we’re going to win anyway.”
Perhaps voters in New York’s 27th district will finally come to realize that a political party comprised of criminals is not well served to represent them.