Chris Collins Overcomes Indictment, Absentee Ballots, to Capture 4th House Term

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Representative Chris Collins was narrowly re-elected to a fourth term, overcoming his indictment on insider trading charges and a prolonged vote count that left him with more than a 2,500-vote cushion.

Mr. Collins, a Republican from Western New York, defeated Nate McMurray, the Democratic town supervisor of Grand Island, N.Y., The Associated Press declared on Friday. Mr. McMurray had initially conceded the race on Election Day, but reconsidered the next morning, saying the race was “too close to call.”

The race represented a startling turnaround for Mr. Collins, who had withdrawn from the contest in the 27th District after his indictment in August.

As local Republican leaders were looking for a replacement candidate, Mr. Collins re-entered the race, though it was sometimes hard to tell: In the weeks leading up to Election Day, Mr. Collins’s campaign did not release a public schedule, and he refused to debate Mr. McMurray.

The indictment also had an impact on fund-raising: Mr. McMurray raised roughly $520,000 compared to Mr. Collins’s $33,000 in the third quarter, with only $80 coming from individuals in the congressman’s district.

As polls showed the race tightening, national Democrats — who initially shunned Mr. McMurray because of his extreme long-shot status — began to rally behind him. Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned with Mr. McMurray in Lancaster, N.Y., and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee started spending money on his campaign in mid-October.

But in a district that President Trump won by 25 points, Mr. McMurray ultimately fell short.

The victory is particularly important for Republicans, who lost at least 39 House seats in the midterm elections. In New York, three Democrats ousted incumbent Republicans, and Mr. Collins was seen as vulnerable after the indictment.

Mr. Collins, who is not scheduled to appear in court until 2020, told local outlets his legal issues will not impact his work as a member of Congress.

“What I have to do now is compartmentalize my legal issue to defend myself in 2020,” he told a Buffalo-area television station, WIVB. “I have to compartmentalize because it is what it is. And I know I’m innocent and I’m confident I will be exonerated, and stick it on the shelf. Will I think about it? Of course I will. It’s not going to impact my day-to-day work.”

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