A legal representative for Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., says his client will remain on the ballot in the race for New York's 27th Congressional District despite his indictment for insider trading.
"Because of the protracted and uncertain nature of any legal effort to replace Congressman Collins we do not see a path allowing Congressman Collins to be replaced on the ballot," Mark Braden, legal counsel for Collins, said in a statement Monday.
Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York charged Collins last month. They alleged that the congressman, while he was a board member of Australian company Innate Immunotherapeutics, gave a tip to his son Cameron last year about a failed drug trial that would soon be announced. His son used that information to dump the stock and avoid a six-figure loss, the Justice Department alleges, and Cameron Collins passed that information along to his father-in-law.
Since then, the New York Republican State Committee has scrambled to find a way to get Collins off the ballot and prepare an alternative candidate to take on newcomer Nate McMurray. In August, Collins suspended his re-election campaign. It was unclear Monday afternoon whether he planned to actively run for office again.
In a an interview with McMurray on Monday, the Democratic congressional candidate called the decision by Republican Party leaders to support Collins remaining on the ballot.
"I think it's an embarrassment. It's hilarious. I can't believe Republican Party leaders are going to stand up and say 'we want this guy to win.' We have seen in previous elections where he's won in landslide victories. But now he's been smoked out," McMurray said. "We know exactly who he is. He's the guy who called up his son in order for him to sell his stock. The average person didn't have that benefit. It's all about him and thinking about his own long term interests." he added.
Democrats appear to have a better chance of flipping Collins' seat with him on the ballot. The legal damage would likely make nonpartisan election handicapper Sabato's Crystal Ball move its rating for the race to "leans" Republican from "likely" GOP, the site's managing editor, Kyle Kondik, said Monday.
Collins' seat is one of two that Republicans will now have a tougher time defending in November due to legal troubles for an incumbent. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., faces charges of misusing campaign funds. Sabato's Crystal Ball also lists that race as "leans" Republican.
Both Collins and Hunter have pleaded not guilty to the charges facing them.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a group dedicated to electing House Democrats, has tried to cast House Republicans as corrupt this year. It seized on the news that Collins would stay on the ballot, and tied his legal troubles to Hunter's.
"The voters of New York 27th Congressional District now have the clearest of choices between scandal-plagued Chris Collins and Nate McMurray, who will be a real fighter for the families of Western New York, and the stakes just got a whole lot higher on November 6th," Meredith Kelly, the DCCC's communications director, said in a statement.
House Republicans cannot afford to lose many elections in this year's midterms as they try to stop Democrats from flipping the 23 GOP-held seats needed to win a House majority.
Both Collins and Hunter won their districts by more than 25 points in 2016 and were considered near locks to hold on to them this year.