Democrats endorse candidate to challenge Collins

The college hosted a forum for each of the individuals who were running for the Democratic nomination to oppose incumbent Congressman Chris Collins  on Feb. 1 (pictured above).  One of the candidates, Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray, received support from the Livingston County Democratic Committee and the Turn 27 Blue Coalition, causing three other candidates to drop out.  (Malachy Dempsey/News Editor)

Democratic organizations in the 27th Congressional District of New York decided to back Town Supervisor of Grand Island Nate McMurray to run against incumbent Congressman Chris Collins in the Congressional elections in November 2018. Following the endorsement, the three other candidates dropped out of the race. 

The district-wide Turn 27 Blue coalition and the Livingston County Democratic Committee decided to endorse McMurray out of the five Democratic contenders on Friday Feb. 16 and Sunday Feb. 18, respectively, according to Livingston County Democratic Committee Chair Judith Hunter. All of the candidates, except for Mumford businessman Nicholas Stankevich, have since withdrawn their candidacy, Hunter said. 

Hunter attributed the active Democrat campaign in the 27th district to frustration with Collins’s tenure as the Congressional representative. 

“Our most important goal is to defeat Chris Collins, who does not serve the people in the 27th district well,” Hunter said. “He refuses to meet with constituents. He’s openly scornful of the idea of town hall meetings. He loves to run to TV studios to talk about anything and everything, except the people [of] the 27th district. We would really like to have someone in Congress who doesn’t ignore us.” 

At a Feb. 1 forum with each of the Democratic candidates in the MacVittie College Union ballroom, McMurray established his vision for the campaign. 

“I believe in the right to choose. I believe in personal healthcare. I believe that students should not be burdened by hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to get an education,” McMurray said at the forum. “I had a successful career in my life, but I did that because we had an America where guys like me had a chance. Chris Collins [does] not want guys like me to have a chance. He wants America for some of us, not for all of us. I want to fight for the American Dream for everyone.” 

These policy positions, as well as his popularity in Grand Island, appealed to the committee and the coalition, according to Hunter. 

“We really liked his experience and his ability to win a very [Republican] town,” Hunter said. “He’s got excellent candidate skills and, of course, we really liked his vision for the future of the 27th district and his conviction that we deserve so much better than what we’re getting right now with Collins.” 

Geneseo College Republicans president junior Joshua Espinosa believes that Collins will remain a strong candidate, regardless of the Democratic candidate. 

“I think Collins is in a good position to do well,” Espinosa said. “This is usually a safe district, as far as Republicans are considered, so I’m not too worried, but I’d be happy to help him out in the fall. It looks [good] for Collins, but I don’t want to count the chickens before they hatch.” 

If Stankevich and McMurray both stay in the race, the Democratic Party would hold a primary election on June 26, according to Hunter. While students may have difficulties participating in a primary election, Hunter believes that students could play a large role in the elections in November. 

“The really wonderful thing about this district and Geneseo is that we have traditionally had lots of volunteers,” Hunter said. “Hopefully, we’ll have headquarters up on Main Street, through which a lot of students could collaborate if they wanted. We’d be thrilled to have student involvement.” 

While Espinosa feels confident that Collins will do well, he admitted that Congressional elections sometimes suffer from lower voter turnout. 

“It’s definitely harder to get people involved in election cycles that aren’t for president,” Espinosa said. “When people have Congress up for election, people don’t always know who their representative is, so it’s a bit harder to get people involved."