The challenger for the 27th House district announces new grassroots movement, says he'll seek office again

Democratic challenger Nate McMurray conceded the race for the 27th Congressional District to inclumbent Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence Monday.

While state elections officials have not yet certified ballot results, it appears Collins will return to Congress for a fourth term. The congressman holds a lead of about 1,300 votes, or less than half a percent in the eight-county district that includes part of Ontario County.

"It was a hard decision,” said McMurray in a press conference. “A huge part of me wants to continue to fight. I can't just fake it. I can't smile and pretend that everything that went down last year is okay. You lied about me, you lied about my family, you hid from the media and the people you represent."

McMurray also said he would run for office again "when the time is right."

Collins declared victory Nov. 20, saying a count of absentee ballots preserved his lead over McMurray. “Congressman Collins led and won on election night and maintained that lead during the entire recanvassing process,” stated Collins’ campaign spokeswoman Natalie Baldassarre.

In Collins’ heavily Republican 27th district — which gave President Donald Trump his biggest margin of victory of any in the state in 2016 — fewer than 3,000 votes separated Collins and McMurray on Election Day. After the last of more than 10,000 absentee ballots were tallied, Erie County Republican Election Commissioner Ralph Mohr said it was “mathematically improbable” for McMurray to win. Collins’ lead had shrunk to 1,384 with more than 900 affidavit ballots and an unknown number of military and federal ballots still to be counted.

McMurray initially alleged irregularities in the voting process and called for a recount. But on Monday, after conceding, he rallied supporters and announced a campaign to empower “good people to run for office” through an organization he is launching called Fight Like Hell.

“We are not going anywhere. Together, with countless supporters across this district and throughout the country, we built something special. We ignored the naysayers and fought like hell for what we believed in,” McMurray posted on his Facebook page.

McMurray, who is Grand Island town supervisor and took his first swing at running for higher office, captured the majority of votes in the district’s counties of Erie, Monroe, Niagara and Ontario. The counties of Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming went for Collins (figures for Livingston County were not available Monday). In Ontario County, McMurray took 54 percent of the vote, to 44 percent for Collins.

“We had the largest partisan swing of any first-time state or federal candidate in the country and one of the largest swings period. Together we set the foundation for incredible things to come,” stated McMurray. He added his campaign raised over $1.2 million in largely grassroots donations in just over three months.

In fueling momentum, McMurray stated Fight Like Hell “will be a voice” for thousands of Western New Yorkers. “I want more people to understand who their local leaders are (and how they can hold them accountable),” stated McMurray. He added the organization will host Town Halls “where residents will have a chance to share their voice, whether or not your Congressman thinks it’s important for you to do so or continues to hide.”

McMurray’s campaign took off and drew national attention after Collins was indicted Aug. 8 on insider trading charges. Collins pleaded not guilty to leaking information about a biopharmaceutical company that allowed his son and others to avoid huge stock losses. His trial is scheduled for February 2020.