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It may be weeks before NY-27 Election Day winner decided

Nick Lippa

It may be weeks before there is an official winner in the mud fight between Rep. Chris Collins and challenger Nate McMurray. The challenger says he is continuing the fight until the last ballot is counted.

New York's archaic Election Law makes for a slow process determining the winner. The various boards of election have not even completed their canvass of Election Day ballots.

Collins was supposed to have a news conference Wednesday explaining his position on the vote count, but top campaign aide Christopher Grant appeared to take questions instead. Grant, from Big Dog Strategies, attacked McMurray for not understanding the law.

"We haven't based one thing we have done on this campaign on Nate McMurray's temper tantrums and we're not about to start now. We based it on the data," said Grant. "Mr. McMurray, unprompted, conceded and he then, this morning, decided to kind of maniacally blame it on his political team. It's not the sign of a leader you want as your member of Congress. You need to be able to take tough decisions. You need to be able to stand with them."

Grant said Collins has been doing what congressmen do: talking to constituents and officials. It is not clear what Collins can do, since his indicted status means he will have little role in House committees until his trial in 2020.

McMurray told a separate news conference Thursday, the absentee total is so large and the current margin so small, he could still win.

Credit Nick LIppa / WBFO News
A Nate McMurray supporter outside a press conference Wednesday.

"We do not need a recount, because we even haven't had an official count yet. We need to count the ballots," McMurray said. "There's only an unofficial count at this time and there's a lot of room to go. Right now, we have about a 1 percent divide in an area that is huge, just about 2,800 votes."

McMurray said the fight continues.

"We are feeling good and everybody out there should understand, this is far from over and we have a duty, I have a duty as a potential representative of this region, to make sure that democracy is handled with care and this is done right," he said, "and anyone who tries to say that we should not count the votes, you have to ask them, 'What are you so afraid of?'"

Usually, the absentee ballots wind up with about the same percentages for each candidate as the Election Day votes, but not always. McMurray said he is looking for experts to hire to help with the counting process.

The latest figures from the State Board of Elections confirm McMurray's estimate. The BOE says Collins is about 3,000 votes ahead, although it is not clear how many more ballots are still out there, absentees and affidavits.

Grant said it is about 10,000 and that is too many for McMurray to win.

"He hasn't yet come to terms with the fact that this campaign is over and so, the reality is, the campaign between Nate McMurray and Chris Collins is over with," Grant said. "The only campaign Nate McMurray is waging is that between himself and his ego. He needs to let the voters in New York 27 will stand. He needs to give up this recount."

"We're not sure what those numbers are, but 18,000 votes in a race that is this historically narrow means we have to do the right thing to make sure it all counted," McMurray said. "The question I would ask them is, Why are they afraid to count the votes and do an accurate counting? Why are they trying to force a concession upon us? We will not do that. We are going to fight them and we have fought them since the git go."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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