Republican Congressman Chris Collins, who last month was indicted on insider trading charges by federal prosecutors, has re-entered the congressional race, despite initially saying that he would suspend his campaign.
In an email to supporters on Wednesday, the three-term congressman promised to "actively campaign" for re-election and assured Buffalo-area voters that they could count on him to serve if elected. That promise comes five weeks after he was arrested by the FBI, following a year-long investigation into his alleged trading on insider information from an Australian biotech company on whose board he served. He was charged with securities fraud, wire fraud, and making false statements and released on $500,000 bail.
“The stakes are too high to allow the radical left to take control of this seat in Congress,” Collins wrote in the statement. “Their agenda is clear. They want to reverse the recently enacted tax cuts, impose Canadian style healthcare, inflict new job-killing regulations and impeach President Trump."
The western New York representative was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump, and is a frequent defender of the president on cable news.
An Important Update pic.twitter.com/UHL1XNTKhw
— Chris Collins (@CollinsNY27) September 19, 2018
The decision comes just as Republicans were planning to reveal a "grand plan" to replace Collins on the ballot, according to the Buffalo News. Erie County Republican Chairman Nicholas Langworthy called the decision a "curveball," adding that there was "a crystal clear way to replace Congressman Collins on the ballot," should he cooperate.
But earlier this week, Collins's attorneys claimed that there was not a straightforward path to remove the congressman from the ballot, due to New York's bewildering election laws. According to state law, a candidate can only be removed from a party's ballot if they die, leave the state, are convicted of a crime, or accept a nomination for another office.
The Times reports that Collins had at first agreed to accept a nomination for a lower office—like a town clerkship or assessor’s post—so that the party could try to find a candidate not so recently arrested by the FBI.
Assuming he does not change his mind again, Collins will face Democratic challenger Nate McMurray, a Grand Island town supervisor. Republicans outnumber Democrats by more than 40,000 registered voters in the district, which Trump carried by more than 24 points.