UNITED STATES - JUNE 20: Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (Photo By...
Bill Clark

Scandal plagued GOP congressman ‘suspends’ his re-election campaign

Updated

The Rachel Maddow Show, 8/8/18, 9:50 PM ET

Long-brewing scandal leads to Republican congressman's arrest

Jerry Zremski, Washington bureau chief for The Buffalo News, talks with Rachel Maddow about following the scandal of Rep. Chris Collins’ dealings with an Australian pharmaceutical company that has led to his arrest on charges of insider trading.
Jerry Zremski, Washington bureau chief for The Buffalo News, talks with Rachel Maddow about following the scandal of Rep. Chris Collins’ dealings with an Australian pharmaceutical company that has led to his arrest on charges of insider trading.
On Wednesday morning, Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) was arrested. On Wednesday afternoon, the GOP congressman issued a press statement insisting that he expected to be re-elected, despite having surrendered into FBI custody hours earlier. On Wednesday night, Collins hosted a press conference in which he said, categorically, that his plans to run for another term in New York’s 27th district would not change.

And on Saturday morning, the New York Republican reversed course. “After extensive discussions with my family and my friends over the last few days, I have decided that it is in the best interest of the constituents of NY-27, the Republican Party and President Trump’s agenda for me to suspend my campaign for re-election to Congress,” Collins said in a written statement.

But given the calendar, the “suspension” of his campaign isn’t as straightforward as simply retiring or resigning. NBC News reported:

What remains unclear is whether Collins intends to remove his name from the ballot and have it replaced by another New York Republican, and it seems unlikely that Collins would be able to be do so this late in the race. In New York state, there are only three ways for a candidate’s name to be removed: death, disqualification or declination.

The first does not apply, and disqualification only includes things like residency and age requirements – but it would not include criminal convictions. At this point, Collins would only face disqualification if he chose to move out of New York state.

Declination is the path that would most easily apply in this situation, but most of the deadlines allowing for that option have passed.

So what happens now?

The short answer is, no one’s entirely sure. The slightly-less-short answer, as Roll Call  reported, involves Republican officials “scrambling” to figure it out.

Two GOP county chairmen said Saturday they expected Collins’ name to be removed from the 27th District ballot. The Republican chairs for the eight counties in the district are expected to meet early next week, potentially on Tuesday, to pick a new nominee.

According to the chairmen and GOP consultant Michael Caputo, Republican candidates were coming out of the woodwork to express their interest in the seat.

Those interested in the race so far include: Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw; state Assemblymen David DiPietro, Stephen Hawley and Ray Walter; state Sen. Pat Gallivan, a former Erie County sheriff; and David Bellavia, an Iraq War veteran and local radio host. And the list of potential GOP hopefuls was expected to grow.

And then, of course, there’s Carl Paladino, a failed gubernatorial candidate who was removed last year from the Buffalo Board of Education in response to his offensive antics. Referencing the possible opening for a new congressional candidate in New York’s 27th district, Paladino announced via Twitter on Saturday, “I’m all in!”

Election Day is 85 days away. It’s probably going to take some time to sort this mess out.