Democrat Nate McMurray is hoping to unseat Republican incumbent Chris Collins in New York’s 27th Congressional District. Collins is seeking his fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. The congressman briefly suspended his campaign in August after federal prosecutors charged him with crimes related to insider trading. Roughly six weeks later, he decided to remain on the ballot and is actively campaigning. The controversy brought increased local and national attention to the race and McMurray. Larry Piegza is also running a third-party campaign on the Reform Party line. NY-27 spans eight counties across Western New York and the Finger Lakes regions.
THE BIG ISSUES
Capital Tonight, Weekdays at 8 p.m.
Get your daily political fix with Capital Tonight with host Liz Benjamin throughout the campaign season.
Rep. Chris Collins is a businessman and former Erie County Executive who currently lives in the town of Clarence. He has been an active member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, although Speaker Paul Ryan removed him from the position while his legal issues play out in court. Collins was the first sitting member of Congress to endorse then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016. He says, as a businessman, “He knows what it’s like to meet a payroll while dealing with the myriad of regulations imposed by Washington bureaucrats each year.” His priorities include balancing the federal budget, limiting government entitlement programs, and tax reform.
Taxes: Supported the reform bill which went into effect this year and, among other things, lowered the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, and doubled the standard deduction for individuals and families. He voted recently to make many of those changes, which would otherwise expire, permanent.
Gun reform: Supports expanded rights for gun owners including the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would require every state to allow concealed-carry gun permit holders to transport their guns across state lines, and the Second Amendment Guarantee Act, a bill he proposed to limit state authority to regulate rifles and shotguns and as a result roll back provisions of NY’s SAFE Act.
Health care: Supports legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He voted in favor of the American Health Care Act, which passed the House but not the Senate. The bill would have eliminated the individual and employer insurance mandate and barred reimbursements for Medicaid funds raised by local governments, effectively shifting that burden to the state.
Nate McMurray is currently the supervisor for the town of Grand Island where he lives — just outside NY-27. The candidate has vowed to move within the district lines should he win. As supervisor he has worked with the state government on projects like a new Western New York Visitor Center and pushed for the removal of the toll barriers and cashless tolling on the Grand Island bridges. McMurray says he is fighting for families, like the one he grew up in, who are “struggling to get by in a system that cares less and less about what matters to them.” His priorities include access to affordable health care, rebuilding infrastructure, and job growth.
Taxes: Does not support the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. He says his first priority is to make sure the benefits of tax cuts go to the middle class and small business, not the richest Americans and largest corporations.
Gun reform: Supports universal background checks, increased funding for the study of gun violence as a public health issue, and a ban on bump stocks. McMurray, a gun owner, says he supports the Second Amendment, but believes Congress needs to do more to prevent gun violence.
Health care: Supports the Medicare for All plans introduced in the House and Senate. The proposal is a form of single-payer health care, a publicly funded government insurance program.
Larry Piegza is a lifelong Erie County resident and entrepreneur. He founded the company Gap Technologies, Inc., which develops new technologies like online development, reporting, and analysis tools for colleges, universities, and companies. He is a believer in eDemocracy.us, a website that allows constituents in congressional districts to cast votes with respect to each individual piece of legislation in front of a representative. He also is casting himself as the alternative candidate for Republicans who don’t want to vote for the indicted Collins. Piegza’s priorities include balancing the federal budget, tax breaks for small businesses, and easing regulatory burdens.
Taxes: Does not support the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which he believes disproportionately benefits the rich and not the middle class. He says he wants to provide generous tax breaks for all small business with less than 50 employees.