WASHINGTON — Rep. Chris Collins, R-New York, under federal indictment for insider trading and lying to investigators, will remain on the ballot in November despite suspending his campaign for reelection after being charged last month, a GOP official said Monday.
That is a scenario that Republican Party officials had hoped to avoid. While New York’s 27th Congressional District is heavily Republican, Democrats believe that with Collins on the ballot, they have an outside chance of claiming the seat in November.
For weeks, state Republican officials explored finding a way for Collins to vacate the general election ballot and replace him with an untainted GOP candidate, but under New York state law there are scant options for a primary winner to spurn his party’s nomination. Short of death or moving out of state, Collins would have had to accept the Republican nomination for another state office.
According to the GOP official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter ahead of an official announcement, that effort was unsuccessful.
Federal prosecutors charged Collins in August with 11 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud and making false statements to investigators. Collins served as chairman of Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australia-based pharmaceutical firm that had undertaken a high-stakes drug trial. In June 2017, according to prosecutors, Collins learned in his capacity as chairman that the trial had failed, then tipped off his son, allowing the son and other family members to avoid more than $700,000 in losses by selling their stakes before the news was made public.
Collins has represented the 27th District, which encompasses suburban and rural areas stretching east of the Buffalo metropolitan area, since 2013. The Democratic nominee is Nate McMurray, a lawyer and local official in the Buffalo suburb of Grand Island, who has said he received a spike in donations after Collins’s indictment.
Collins has vigorously denied wrongdoing but said suspending his campaign would be “in the best interests of the constituents of NY-27, the Republican Party and President [Donald] Trump’s agenda.”
After the charges were filed, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifted the race from solid Republican to likely Republican.
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