Nate McMurray wanted nothing to do with the kind of big-money politics that typify competitive congressional races.
“My campaign will be funded by gifts from ordinary people, not giant SuperPACs or special interest groups,” declared McMurray, the Democratic nominee for New York’s 27th District U.S. House seat, on his website’s fundraising page. Elsewhere on his site, he adds “wealthy financiers” to his no-no list.
McMurray, 43, seemingly had little to lose in making such statements. His race was thoroughly uncompetitive, written off by most state and national Democrats. To them, McMurray represented little more than jobber fodder for cash-flush incumbent Chris Collins, a Republican who represents a Western New York district President Donald Trump carried by 24 percentage points.
Believing McMurray could beat Collins was akin to believing the hometown Buffalo Sabres — who finished last in the National Hockey League during the 2017-18 season — could win next year’s Stanley Cup.
Then, on Wednesday, everything changed.
That was the day the feds arrested Collins and charged him with securities fraud, wire fraud and making false statements to the FBI. McMurray’s phone blew up — with new friends, congressmen, aides to previously down-on-McMurray New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Within 24 hours, “tens of thousands of dollars” poured in from the country’s four corners, including $1,000 from Trump nemesis Rosie O’Donnell, McMurray told the Center for Public Integrity. Even the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which McMurray said Saturday had little for him previously, declared New York’s 27th District race “firmly in play for Democrats.”
“It’s been a life saver for us,” McMurray said by phone Saturday. “It’s become more of a national campaign overnight.”
Consider that McMurray’s campaign had only collected less than $134,000 for the entire election cycle through June 30, according to federal records — roughly a dime for every dollar Collins had raised.
More money could be on its way. A lot more — regardless of whether McMurray wants the kind of cash that may be arriving.