Last week Rep. Chris Collins, the incumbent in NY-27's congressional race, was indicted for insider trading. After initially claiming he'd continue his reelection bid, on Saturday he elected to suspend his campaign. He claims his change of heart is a strategic move meant to support the Republican party and Trump's agenda while he fights the "meritless" charges.
The charges specifically accuse Collins of wire and securities fraud involving an insider trade deal with an Australian pharmaceutical company called Innate Immunotherapeutics. Collins allegedly knew a drug did poorly in its clinical drug trial and told his son and others to sell their stock in it before this knowledge was public. They did just that, saving themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Oh, and the punishment for a such a crime? 150 years in jail. Yeah.
Likely not. Collins is heavily involved in the health industry and has invested millions of dollars in an array of businesses. One, ZeptoMetrix, for which he still serves on the board of directors, is private lab that has received millions of dollars in federal contracts. Collins has been under investigation for a while for writing legislation meant to benefit businesses he's invested millions in including ZeptoMetrix and Innate Immunotherapeutics. He's no stranger to shaky ethics.
Trump won NY-27 by 24 points, but if there's a scramble to pin down a Republican nomination, Democrats have a much better chance of taking the seat. Collins' opponent is Nate McMurray, supervisor of Grand Island in Erie County. Recently the Cook Political Report has even downgraded the race from "solid Republican" to "likely Republican."
Of course, a lot of this depends on who ends up running for Collins' seat on the GOP side. By law, the only ways for Collins to get off the ballot (so the GOP can nominate another candidate) is for him to die, accept a nomination to a different race, or be disqualified. Even if he is convicted before election day, which is unlikely, it wont disqualify him, so GOP operatives are actually considering a crazy play - nominating Collins for a town clerkship to would bump him out of the race and down the ballot. Quelle scandale!
If they can manage that political manuvering, there are a couple of prospects to take Collins' place, including Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and Carl Paladino, former New York Republican gubernatorial candidate.
Stefan Mychajiliw, a proud Trumper, is kind of obsessed with making sure the Democrats don't impeach Trump should they take control of the House after midterms. He's also, however, an outspoken opponent of free trade. (You can see why he's so Trumpy!)
Carl Paladino is the more radical alternative. He's also a huge Trump supporter, and, unsurprisingly, mostly famous in NY for making racist comments to the press stating that Obama should "die from mad cow disease" and claiming Michelle Obama should "go live with gorillas." He was also kicked off a school board in Buffalo for revealing confidential information about teachers' union negotiations. Also, unlike Mychajiliw, he hasn't actually made explicit comments on his platform, so nobody's really sure what he stands for aside from racism.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, has demanded House Speaker Paul Ryan call for Collins total resignation from his current position.