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With a special election date set, NY-27 is now a referendum on Trump

Eileen Buckley

Between now and April 28, voters in the sprawling, rural farming eight counties of the 27th Congressional District are likely to see a lot of Republican State Sen. Chris Jacobs and Democrat Nate McMurray. They are squared off in the special election called Monday to fill the seat vacated by Chris Collins.

It is a heavily conservative Republican district, which Kathy Hochul held for a sort time after another special election, before losing to Collins. Jacobs said Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to elect a Democrat by calling the vote on the day of the presidential primary election, with no Republican primary.

"He's really trying to skew the election to benefit the Democrat, so we will have to work very hard to make people aware that there's an important election here," Jacobs said. "It's the first election post-impeachment and we want to send a strong message that this is a Republican district that supports President Trump and it should remain in Republican hands, and I intend to make sure that happens."

The raw numbers say Jacobs should win because Democrats are wildly outnumbered in the 27th. However, McMurray came very close two years ago and he said voters remember his attacks on the incumbent in the wake of Collins being hit with  the insider trading charges.

"People come up to me all the time, in grocery stores, in diners, and they'll say, 'That's for fighting against Chris Collins' and I will be proud of that for the rest of my life, no matter what happens next, I believe,": McMurray said. "It was not an easy fight when I first started. People said Mr. Collins - the same thing you're asking me today - he's so wealthy. He's an incumbent. How can you fight him?"

The two are squaring off April 28, knowing there will probably be a primary election in June for the seat, at least on the Republican side, and then it will be on the November ballot, along with the president.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Democrat Nate McMurray speaks to reporters Monday.

Jacobs said the two candidates are very different.

"I'm very supportive of President Trump. He's against President Trump. He believes that socialism is a good idea and that we should be heading down that road. I'm adamantly opposed to that. He believes in single-payer health care and I'm opposed to that. And I'm in favor of completing the southern wall to secure our border and he's opposed to that," said Jacobs.

McMurray poked at claims he is a socialist.

"I was assistant general counsel and vice president of business development for their family's company. Now, would they hire a mad socialist to fullfill such a role? I'm going to keep presenting who I really am and not who they want to to depict me in commercials and advertisments. It's a challenge," McMurray said.

"I want to fight for health care for every single American," he continued. "Like many of you listening, my own family struggles with health care needs and costs. Many of us struggle with co-pays and drug prices and nothing has been done. We can see the budget of the president that he put forward today. It's a repeat of past mistakes, with cuts to Medicare and Medicaid."

That support on health care issues drew an attack against the Democrat from Jacobs. The Republican is praising the president for the new treaty with Canada and Mexico, which will help dairy farmers in the congressional district.

"Last year, the New York State leadership, Governor Cuomo passed a farm bill that was very damaging to farmers. Yes, I think this is something Trump has done a great job on, passing a new USMCA and the new trade deal replacing NAFTA and it's going to really help, in particular dairy farmers," he said.

For the primary, lawyer and Fox News commentator Beth Parlato will likely challenge Jacobs and already has the Conservative endorsement.

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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