Embattled Republican Rep. Chris Collins will actively campaign for re-election “and serve should voters elect me,” he confirmed in a tweet Wednesday, following a decision to remain on the ballot while he faces a legal battle over federal charges relating to alleged insider trading.
“The stakes are too high to allow the radical left to take control of this seat in Congress,” Collins said in the statement.
“As a result, I will fight on two fronts. I will work to ensure the 27th District remains in Republican hands, while I fight to clear my good name in the courts,” he added.
Collins, who gained a national profile as one of President Donald Trump’s earliest supporters in Congress during the 2016 campaign, has been charged with securities fraud, wire fraud and false statements stemming from alleged insider trading in stock of an Australian pharmaceutical company.
Collins has called the charges “meritless.” The President has also weighed in, suggesting in a recent tweet that the Justice Department should have waited until after the midterms to file charges. The race is “now in doubt because there is not enough time” before Election Day, Trump added.
Party strategists remain confident that the Buffalo-area Republican will hold on to his solidly Republican district in spite of his legal woes, and Collins will be able to tap into a campaign war chest of more than $1.3 million.
Still, the race is far from ideal for Collins or the GOP, and one they looked to avoid. Last month, Collins announced he would suspend his campaign — and Republicans began combing New York state law for a loophole by which to replace him with a relatively unencumbered substitute.
“We thought it would be better to offer voters a choice of a candidate that did not face the distractions of a legal defense at this time,” Erie County Republican Committee chairman Mark Longworthy explained Monday, adding that he believed there was a “crystal clear way” to replace Collins on the ballot.
Ultimately, however, Collins and his attorneys opted out — expressing concern that any lawsuits by Democrats could further complicate their existing legal puzzle.
“Because of the protracted and uncertain nature of any legal effort to replace Congressman Collins, we do not see a path allowing Congressman Collins to be replaced on the ballot,” Mark Braden, Collins’ attorney, said Monday.