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Political Note #270   Nate McMurray New York CD 27

2020                             Special Election and General Election

I know this district. I used to live there. One of two Republican districts I have lived in. Youngstown, New York. In the northwest corner of New York’s 27th Congressional District. In the northwest corner of New York. Niagara County. Almost fifty years ago, my wife went to a meeting of the county legislature to oppose their anti-abortion position. Futility.

The district extends well past Niagara County. artfully avoiding cities. It surrounds Rochester; surrounds Buffalo. The northern border of the district runs along Lake Ontario, drops south well west of Rochester and its suburbs and then extends further east. The border drops south again to New York’s southern tier of counties. The northern border of the southern tier is, roughly, the southern border of the district which runs west to Lake Erie, surrounding Buffalo. In this case, some of Buffalo’s suburbs are included.

District 27 votes for Republican presidential candidates. McCain by 10 points, Romney by 12, Trump by 25. Let me say that again. Trump by 25 points. The district was briefly Democratic – voting for Kerry, Gore, and Clinton. From 2005 to 2013 its Member of Congress was a Democrat. With that exception, it has had a Republican Member of Congress since 1983. In the more distant past, ten Republican Members of Congress represented District 27 from 1857 to 1911. Democrats win occasionally in the district, but not often.

Could a Democrat win in 2020? In 2018, Democrat Nate McMurray lost to the Republican incumbent Chris Collins by .3%, by 1,037 votes. That could give you hope. Probably a misguided hope. Although Chris Collins had some of the advantages of incumbency, those advantages were mitigated by Collins’ legal problems. Collins was under indictment. He resigned from Congress on September 30. 2019. His resignation was effective the following morning. He pled guilty to insider trading in the afternoon.

Nate McMurray is running again to represent District 27. In a Special Election scheduled because of Collin’s’ resignation for April 28 and, whether he is the incumbent or not, in the General Election on November 3. In a district that could remind you of the 1950s, this is an election that could remind you of the 1950s. Nate McMurray is a business-oriented Democrat. His opponent is a rare contemporary creature – a moderate Republican. For Nate McMurray to succeed, he would need a Democratic wave, movement Republicans to rebel against the Republican candidate, and/or for the Cook Report to be wrong.   The Cook Report identifies District 27 as having an 11% edge for Republicans.

Chris Jacobs, the Republican candidate, is rich. His family owns Delaware North. You have eaten their food – at a highway plaza or an airport. They have more ways to make money. They own resorts, gambling operations, the Boston Bruins hockey team. Politically, he identifies himself as a pragmatist. In 2016, he gave money to several Presidential candidates, none of them named Trump. He has been opposed by the Club for Growth and other movement Republican groups. Neverthess, he was chosen as the Congressional candidate for this special election by Republican County Chairs in District 27. He has faced voters before, but not as a target of Movement Conservatives

The Democrat, Nate McMurray, is not rich. He is prosperous and has a kind of pedigree. His great, great, etc. grandfather founded the town of Tonawanda in the District. Tonawanda was the kind of town and he was the kind of founder to operate a tavern on the bank of the Niagara River. Nate McMurray was born in North Tonawanda. His father died when he was four. His mother, a teacher, raised seven children on her own, mostly in what had become a decaying industrial community.

Nevertheless, Nate McMurray had a remarkable career. His BA was from nearby SUNY Buffalo where he was an outstanding student. He went to one of America’s great law schools — the Hastings College of Law at the University of California, Berkeley where he won a Fulbright. With his scholarship he studied the development of democracy in South Korea and earned a Master’s Degree from Tsinghua University in China.

East Asia was his focus. Nate McMurray was a consultant and commentator about China and Korea. He returned home to live on Grand Island in the middle of the Niagara River – a place that used to grow grapes for grape jelly and was once proposed as a homeland for Jews. He became an Eagle Scout there, learning to love this woodsy suburb connected by bridges to Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

Nate McMurray became active politically on Grand Island. As Town Supervisor, he has been credited with bringing industry to the community, protecting its environment, and making countrified areas accessible through trails and bike paths.

What is Nate McMurray in this for? Healthcare as a right for people, legalization of marijuana, elimination of the student debt problem, a minimum wage that people can live on. He’s a Democrat. Can he win in the April special election? Can he win in November? Capturing New York’s District 27 would be a big ……. deal, as Joe Biden might say into an unexpectedly live mic. Provide some support for Nate McMurray. Remember, he is running against a rich man.


There are other special elections to watch and support as well as Judicial elections that will happen well before November.

In this heavily Democratic District, former Member of Congress Kweisi Mfume won the Democratic Primary for an election to be held on April 28. MD CD 07 is open because of Elija Cummings’ death.

On March 3, State Assemblywoman Christy Smith is seeking to be one of the top two vote getters in the March 3 all non-partisan primary so she can complete in the May 21 Run Off. CA CD 25 is Open because of Katie Hill’s resignation from Congress after a sex scandal.

On February 18, Democratic and Republican primaries will select candidates for an open Wisconsin Congressional seat. The two Democratic candidates are Businessman Lawrence Dale and School Board President Tricia Zunker. The Special Election for WI CC 07 will be on May 12.

Also on February 18, in an ostensibly non-partisan race in Wisconsin, an incumbent conservative State Supreme justice is included in a non-partisan three person race with two Democrats – Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone and County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky. The election to choose between the top two vote getters will be on April 7. A victory by the Democrat who remains would reduce the conservative majority to 4-3.