The Democratic candidate appears in Canandaigua as race heats up in 27th Congressional District; Republican Jacobs takes oath of office

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CANANDAIGUA — As Republican Chris Jacobs on Tuesday was in Washington taking the oath of office in the 27th Congressional District, Democratic challenger Nate McMurray rallied supporters in Canandaigua.

“He will take his short victory lap. We will fight him all the way to November,” McMurray told a crowd gathered in Atwater Park on North Main Street. “We have three months to make sure he has the shortest term in Congress ever.”

Jacobs, who has been a state senator, had the support of President Donald Trump as he won last month’s special election against McMurray. Jacobs, who identifies as the “Trump Endorsed Candidate” for NY’s 27th, will serve the five and one-half months remaining in the term of former GOP Rep. Chris Collins. The district covers a large area of western New York between the Buffalo and Rochester areas, including the western half of Ontario County and its population areas of Canandaigua, Farmington and Victor.

“Make no mistake. Our country is in a crisis,” McMurray said. “And the people who are willing to stand up now are the people who will be remembered for fighting against the evil that we see in our country today. President Donald Trump is not only a bad president. He may be the worst president in history. He is pushing us away from the things we care about. The things that make us proud of our country.”

Barney Klueber of Bloomfield, who spoke up, said why he supports McMurray. “I want my grandchildren to have the country they deserve — that so many previous generations have worked and died for,” said Klueber, an Air Force veteran.

“We will win in November, given the ground swell of interest,” said supporter Candace Ryan of South Bristol. She said with Jacobs aligned with Trump, people see the danger. “It is frightening,” she said. “A lot of people are seeing that Nate is the sane, responsible choice.”

McMurray supporter Gunnar Johnson, an Army veteran, said getting people out to vote will be crucial.

“We are going to fight hard until November,” said McMurray, adding that in the general election, there will be 150,000 more voters.

“Keep your spirits high. I know this is a dark time for our country,” McMurray said. “We were down 40-something points on election night,” he noted. After absentee ballots were counted, the gap shrunk to 5 points, “maybe even less,” he said, referring to any remaining ballots to be certified.

“I believe 2020 is the time we prove what America is really about,” said McMurray.

“Nate is sincere. He’s got a heart of gold. He is an intelligent, devoted man,” Klueber said in a private interview after McMurray spoke. “We need so many more people like him, men and women, in Washington. It’s very important to our area and our nation as a whole.”

Jacobs and McMurray, an attorney and former Grand Island town supervisor, will compete again in November’s elections for a full two-year term. The district stretches across Western New York and includes all or part of eight counties including a portion of Monroe County and a large section of Ontario County including Canandaigua.

Jacobs Tuesday became the newest House member on Tuesday, taking the oath of office to fill the unexpired term of Collins, who left Congress after pleading guilty to federal insider trading charges.

The 53-year-old former state senator wore a face mask — unlike some Republicans — as he took the oath on the House floor from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. In brief remarks, Jacobs said he planned to “help our state at a time when they are clearly in need in a fiscal crisis,” an apparent reference to the blows the coronavirus pandemic has dealt to New York and the entire country.

Collins, the first sitting member of Congress to back Trump's candidacy in 2016, was in his fourth House term when he resigned last October. The day before, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and making false statements. He was sentenced in January to 26 months in prison and a $200,000 fine. He is scheduled to report to prison next month.

Democrats control the House 232-198, plus one independent and four vacancies.

Includes reporting from The Associated Press