Chris Collins, Tom Reed and John Katko all are re-elected
Democats may have taken the House of Representatives Tuesday night, but locally, incumbent Republican congressmen Chris Collins, Tom Reed and John Katko held onto their House seats. In Collins' case, the result came despite an indictment on insider trading charges.
In the 27th District, Collins won over Democrat Nate McMurray and Reform Party candidate Larry Piegza on Tuesday.
McMurray announced Tuesday night that he conceded the race. Later in the evening, though, he announced he was calling for a recount.
"After examining the numbers, the margin is 1% and the will of the voters must be heard. We are demanding a recount. Mr. Collins is going to need another set of lawyers,” McMurray stated in a release.
Collins, who took 49 percent of the vote to McMurray's 48 percent, showed up to vote Tuesday around 5 p.m. in Erie County. When asked then by Daily Messenger news partner News 10NBC if any Republican had ever told him they just couldn't vote for him, he said no.
“It started back in September, people asking me to make sure I ran, saying they are supporting me with enthusiasm," said Collins, who told News 10NBC he had no regrets on his decision to stay in the race, he replied, “Oh no. This was the right thing to do. We do have to keep this seat Republican.”
McMurray amassed support from a wide array of organizations and unions leading up to the election, including the NY League of Conservation Voters and National Nurses United for his stands on healthcare and protecting the environment.
McMurray, who visited Ontario County numerous times during the campaign, said the wide support showed voters agree “we need to put country before party to elect honest, accountable leadership in Congress. I am ready to be a representative that Western New York can count on to fight for them in Washington.”
Citing accomplishments, McMurray noted his role in development of the West River Parkway Trail and the arrival of cashless tolls on Grand Island. He pledged to find “core common values” with other House members and to reflect voters’ concerns.
McMurray stated in a release Tuesday night: "While tonight's results are disheartening, my fight for a better Western New York and a better United States will not end. This is my home, and I believe we deserve better than a Congressman under indictment and out on bail, but I also respect the will of the voters, and they have spoken. This campaign was a part of a movement to fight for the rights and leadership that we deserve as Americans. Tonight’s result is a setback, but we will never give up.”
Collins stayed largely out of the spotlight after his indictment Aug. 8 on insider trading charges, though he was a late arrival, unannounced to the public, at a recent Vote Red Rally hosted by the Ontario County Republican Committee. Collins campaign for re-election focused largely on attacking McMurray, including a racially tinged campaign ad portraying McMurray speaking in Korean with misleading text. McMurray’s wife is a naturalized citizen from South Korea. The attack drew widespread criticism including from fellow House member Ted Lieu, Democrat from California, who tweeted: “Take your racist ad and shove it.”
While the 23rd District congressional race didn’t get national attention, it did draw a lot of interest in the district beginning with large pool of Democrats headed to a September primary. Tracy Mitrano was one of five candidates in the primary that was initially too close to call. Mitrano held a mere 26-vote lead over candidate Max Della Pia. Citing a call for unity to defeat Reed, Della Pia conceded the race to Mitrano before an absentee ballot count.
Reed defeated Mitrano with 55 percent of the vote to Mitrano's 45 percent.
"We are humbled by the support we received from our hardworking neighbors across the Southern Tier, Finger Lakes and Western New York," Reed stated in a release. "I'm proud to have earned your trust and I look forward to continuing to work for our families."
In the weeks leading up to Nov. 6 both candidates claimed the other was out of touch with the needs of the district. Mitrano campaigned heavily on healthcare, education reform and strengthening infrastructure she said was lacking throughout the rural district. She talked about her support for a “Medicare for all” system to ensure everyone has health care. She blasted Reed for supporting and touting success of the recent tax overhaul, which gives the biggest tax break to the wealthiest income earners. Reed cited businesses in the district giving bonuses and pay raises thanks to the new tax plan. Reed campaigned as well on his role as co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of House members meeting regularly to come up with solutions to major issues.
Reed repeatedly blasted Mitrano as being “an Extreme Ithaca Liberal,” a term used to paint her in a bad light to voters in the largely conservative district. He cited her support for what he called “government run healthcare” he said would cost $32 trillion and “double your taxes.” He blasted Mitrano for her talk about heroin injection sites in the war against the opioid epidemic.
Mitrano, who lives in Penn Yan, shot back at Reed on a number of issues. On mention of the Problem Solvers Caucus during a debate last week in Corning, Mitrano said the caucus had accomplished nothing. She claimed Reed is beholden to his corporate donors and follows their talking points. Mitrano said the majority of Americans want a system ensuring everyone has healthcare. On Obamacare, the current system that the Republican-led Congress has begun to dismantle, Reed said he remains against Obamacare. However, he pledged to support coverage for pre-existing conditions that is a hot-button issue nationally.
The race turned particularly ugly late last week when a Mitrano staffer posted profanity at Reed, police, capitalism and Trump on social media. The Reed camp played up the offensive post, linked to the post from a press release claiming it “showed what truly motivates Tracy Mitrano and her team: a hatred of our law enforcement community and our capitalist system. This should further illustrate to voters why they simply cannot trust Tracy Mitrano.”
Mitrano responded to the incident in a statement: “One of my campaign field workers put a post on social media last night that was not in keeping with the standards to which I have run my campaign for the last 16 months.
“The staffer does not speak for the campaign and the statements made in the post do not in any way represent me or my values. I have long talked about the need for respect and decency in politics. As a result, the staffer has turned in her resignation and I have accepted it.”
Campaign Manager Ryder Kessler added, “That the Reed campaign would try to hype an ill-advised post from a young field staffer during the last few hours of this election fits within his broader pattern of using any tool to distract from his poor voting record.”
Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko has won re-election to a third term in the 24th District, a central New York congressional district that voted Democratic in the last two presidential elections.
Katko defeated Democrat Dana Balter on Tuesday after a campaign in which he portrayed himself as a bipartisan voice in Washington.
He had an anti-gridlock message and blamed hard-right conservatives in his own party for keeping Congress from passing good legislation on health care and infrastructure.
In 2016, Katko was one of only 23 House Republicans who won in a district carried by Hillary Clinton.
Balter was an organizer in a Syracuse group formed to fight President Donald Trump's agenda. Her congressional bid focused on campaign finance reform and protecting and expanding Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
The 24th District includes all of Wayne, Cayuga and Onondaga counties, and part of Oswego County.
Includes reporting from Messenger Post reporter Julie Sherwood