Democratic candidate Nathan McMurray conceded to Republican incumbent Chris Collins in the 27th Congressional election on Monday Nov. 26, prompting reflections from the college community about future developments in light of Collins’s indictment on federal insider trading charges.
Results from the midterm elections on Nov. 6 revealed Collins’s apparent victory. This was followed by a response from McMurray initially declaring his defeat as “disheartening,” before announcing that his campaign would persist until all absentee and affidavit ballots were counted, according to the The Livingston County News.
“It was a close race, but the Republican prevailed. One thing it says about it is how much party prevails,” chair of the political science and international relations department Jeffrey Koch said. “Twenty years ago, it might have been the case that Chris Collins would have lost, but partisanship is stronger these days. People will vote for candidates more based on the party than their own personal characteristics or about issues.”
Compared to previous elections in the area, Collins led McMurray by a slight margin of a little over 1,500 votes, according to The Livingston County News. Collins’s candidacy was affected by insider trading charges put forth against him by federal prosecutors, according to The Washington Post.
After news of his charges broke, his expected re-election was brought into question, despite the Republican tendencies of the district, demonstrated by the Cook Political Report.
Despite these charges, Collins was officially re-elected, but some members of the college community, including Koch, question his ability to fulfill the responsibility of the position given his criminal charges.
“He lost his committee chairmanships and committee positions, at the same time the House of Representatives is going over to the Democrats, and so the way things generally are, is that’s going to diminish the power of all representatives in the House of Republicans, so he as an individual loses power, so the district loses power,” Koch said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually he resigned the position for two reasons: one to devote more time to the trial, as well as it’s not a good thing for the Republicans to be having that hanging over their heads, that one of their members is on trial for insider trading.”
This midterm election showed a higher percentage of college age students voting at the polls, according to a Nov. 8 article in The Lamron.
Some students, including communication major sophomore Grace Sellers, are disappointed over the results, but excited at local involvement.
“It’s disheartening to know that so many people are okay with someone being indicted on federal charges but still being okay with them representing us,” Sellers said. “It’s disheartening but … also, it was kind of exciting for me because it was still very close and there’s so many people that I don’t think would often vote on the left or Democrat but they did.”
If Collins is found guilty after his upcoming trial in February 2020, the governor would be responsible for deciding what steps to take next, Koch explained.
“If they’re going to indict someone who’s a sitting member of Congress, they’re usually pretty sure that there is a crime here and have some pretty strong evidence,” Koch said.
Students, including Sellers, are unsure of how that process would pan out, but consider the possibility of a special election.
“I hope that it’s not just like a ‘fill in any old Republican,’ because then they’re not voted on and I don’t think that’s how that works,” Sellers said. “But I would love to see Nate actually win.”
International relations and political science acting department chair Jeremy Grace is interested in seeing how the wave of Democratic elections to Congress will impact Trump’s policy-making.
“It’s a huge wave for the Democrats and even the Senate results were better than what we would have structurally predicted based on where the Senate contests were for the Democratic party,” Grace said. “So we’ll see what this means in terms of counteracting some of the policies Trump has been trying to undertake.”