Collins and McMurray battle on in race for NY House seat
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Congressional candidate Nate McMurray said Wednesday that he wasn’t conceding his race against indicted Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Collins when he told supporters he was falling “a little short,” and that he used the wrong language when he demanded a recount.
With the western New York race still too close to call and thousands of absentee ballots yet to be counted, McMurray told reporters he was “still fighting like hell.”
“This isn’t even yet a recount. We haven’t even had an official count yet,” the Democrat said. He blamed political inexperience for calling for a “recount” two hours after appearing to concede the race Tuesday night. New York does not have a recount provision.
The Collins camp fired back at the election night drama.
“Last night’s results were close, but they were decisive,” Collins’ adviser Christopher Grant said at his own news conference Wednesday. “The only campaign Nate McMurray is waging is that between himself and his ego.”
Collins declared victory shortly after McMurray, the town supervisor of Grand Island, delivered an emotional election night speech that surprised race callers who were not ready to declare a winner.
“We’re going to come up a little short tonight,” he said. “I don’t want you to be disappointed in that.”
McMurray said Wednesday he made the remarks when it looked like Collins’ margin of victory was widening and he wanted to let supporters get home. He said it was the media that called it a concession.
About 10,000 absentee ballots will be tallied in the next few weeks, Grant said. They are unlikely to change the outcome of the election, he said.
Unofficial results Tuesday gave Collins a 2,800-vote lead over McMurray. The Republican-leaning district between Buffalo and Rochester gave President Donald Trump his biggest margin of victory of any district in New York in 2016.
Win or lose, Collins faces trial in 2020 on charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI. He has pleaded not guilty.
In a second, undecided House race in central New York, Democrat Anthony Brindisi was beating Republican U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney by fewer than 1,500 votes Wednesday.
Tenney has not conceded and her campaign manager noted that thousands of absentee ballots must still be counted in that race, as well.
Late Tuesday Brindisi predicted he would win the district, which includes the former manufacturing hubs of Binghamton and Utica, as well as rolling hills dotted with dairy farms.
Tenney was an early supporter of President Donald Trump, and her rhetoric bothered some moderates within her own party. But her policies remained popular in another district strongly backed Trump in 2016.
Associated Press writer David Klepper in Albany contributed to this report.