So someone turned off the music on the game of musical chairs that was intended to determine which Republican will succeed indicted Congressman Chris Collins in the 27th district. The candidates went round and round. Some of them felt that the game was just a charade and dropped out of contention on their own. Others either cling to the hope that it will all work out this fall, or maybe that they could position themselves for a special election in 2019.
The reason the music stopped is that party leaders have concluded that there is no way to remove Collins from the ballot in November. The options, according to state law, are death, moving out of state, or running for another office.
Moving out of state seems to have been ruled out in a 2008 federal court case involving the predecessor district to the one now in question. The legal action, which involved local Republicans, resulted in a failed Democratic primary candidate being unable to get off of the Working Families Party line even though he moved out of the state.
All sorts of options have been floated about running for another office. They included running Collins for town clerk anywhere in the state; or maybe for the State Assembly; or maybe for town assessor in Eden. Eden folks didn’t take too kindly to that idea. But then Erie County Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr pointed out that the Public Officers Law requires a candidate to be a resident of the location where they are a candidate by Election Day, so that won’t work even if there was a cooperative local Republican committee somewhere.
The final desperate suggestion involved getting a current town justice or councilman in Clarence, where Collins does in fact reside, to resign to let him run in that person’s place. Upon reflection Republican leaders likely recognized that such a move would poison their well, hurting other candidates.
So what they are left with is the unsightly prospect of promoting the candidacy of a candidate who is under federal indictment and is likely headed for jail. The heavy Republican/Trump lean in the district makes it plausible that the indicted candidate, however, could win re-election. So in November 2018 it will be “Vote for Collins. Party over principles!”
If that were to happen a Collins conviction, probably in 2019, would create a vacancy in the seat. Republican chances of winning a special election would be better than they will be this year as they attempt to elect a future felon.
Into the breach stepped Donald Trump, who chastised his Attorney General for indicting Collins and Congressman Duncan Hunter of California, potentially jeopardizing two Republican House seats. Hunter is the bright light who got nailed for using his campaign account for such things as a family vacation to Italy and airfare for their pet rabbit. Party over principles!
Collins on the ballot will definitely make things uncomfortable for other candidates. “So Mr. Molinaro/Assemblyman/Senator (R/Trump), do you support the candidacy of your running mate, Congressman Chris Collins?”
Or … just maybe, Collins accepts a plea deal to minimize the hurt to his son, and does so in the next several weeks, resigning from Congress in the process, and allowing the Republicans to quickly re-start the musical chairs game.
Meanwhile, day-by-day, Democratic candidate Nate McMurray moves forward.
This election is going to be a very interesting one to watch.
Last pre-primary campaign financials
Next Thursday, September 13th, is primary Election Day. Candidates involved in the primary were required by September 4th to report on their campaign finances as of August 31st. Here’s a summary of what the candidates raised and spent since August 9th and what they still have in the campaign accounts:
Governor – Democratic primary
Andrew Cuomo, Democrat. Incumbent. Raised: $183,218 Spent: $8,534,482 Balance: $16,094,891
Cynthia Nixon, Democrat. Raised: $475,168 Spent: $450,276 Balance: $466,749
Lieutenant Governor – Democratic primary
Kathy Hochul, Democrat. Incumbent: Raised: $356,262 Spent: $1,527,457, including $1.4 million for TV ads. Balance: $390,232
Jumaane Williams, Democrat. Raised: $62,165 Spent: $37,785 Balance: $71,856; Williams has thus far only refunded $20,000 of the $45,000 in previously noted over-contributed corporate donations.
Attorney General – Democratic primary
Leecia Eve. Raised: $138,988, including a personal loan of $100,000. Spent: $255,604 Balance: $42,936
Letitia James. Raised: $428,266 Spent: $766,638 Balance: $867,357
Sean Patrick Maloney. Raised: $1,649,352. Of that amount, $1,425,000 was a transfer from Maloney’s congressional campaign account. Spent: $1,953,106 Balance: $491,318
Zephyr Teachout. Raised: $545,377 Spent: $617,745 Balance: $498,273
63rd Senate District – Democratic primary
Timothy Kennedy, Democrat. Incumbent. Raised: $111,252 Spent: $212,087, which included $141,500 to Stonefront Political Media, San Francisco, for TV ads and other services. Balance: $548,614
Shaqurah Zackery, Democrat. Raised: $2,340 Spent: $2,340 Balance: $0. Her report shows $68,219 in loans and liabilities, including $57,937 to Gallagher Printing, Clarence.
Erie County Court Judge – Democratic, Republican, Working Families, Independence, Reform primaries
Suzanne Maxwell Barnes, Democrat. Raised: $1,000 Spent: $85,497, mostly for TV ads. Balance: $25,796
Debra Givens, Republican. Raised: $1,800 Spent: $9,516 Balance: $31,795
Erie County Clerk – Independence, Reform primaries involving Kearns
Michael Kearns, Republican. Incumbent. Raised: $11,454 Spent: $2,304 Balance: $51,025
Angela Marinucci, Democrat. Not involved in a primary.