The Democratic field of potential challengers to Rep. Chris Collins continues to shrink with attorney Sean B. Bunny’s Wednesday decision to exit the contest.
The Army veteran’s withdrawal now leaves only Nicholas R. Stankevich rivaling Grand Island Supervisor Nathan D. McMurray among Democrats for the right to face the GOP incumbent in November. Stankevich, a Mumford businessman, is not addressing inquiries about his status in the race as McMurray gains strength following his endorsement last week by Democratic leaders in the eight-county 27th Congressional District.
Earlier this week two other Democratic hopefuls – engineer Thomas P. Casey of Orchard Park and Williamsville businesswoman Joan Elizabeth Seamans – also ended their candidacies. The possibility of a June congressional primary continues, however, if Stankevich gathers enough signatures on designating petitions to qualify for the ballot.
Bunny, meanwhile, was considered the early favorite to run against Collins when he declared his candidacy several months ago. The former Erie County assistant district attorney and Army officer quit his job and had noted significant, six-figure success in his early fundraising efforts.
On Wednesday, however, he said he was not interested in a “bruising primary” for the Democratic nomination as a preliminary to a general election contest viewed as very much uphill.
“I ran for Congress because I felt I had an obligation to give back to the community that has given me everything,” Bunny said. “I wanted to add the perspective of a combat veteran and prosecutor to the political debate, a perspective we desperately need in Washington.
“While I am proud of the campaign I ran, I did not become a candidate to hurt the Democratic Party or hurt our chances in November,” he added. “The most important objective is defeating Chris Collins and his anti-Western New York agenda this fall.”
Bunny would not say if he will support another candidate and would not comment when asked if he was satisfied with the party process that is coalescing around McMurray.
“It’s too early,” he said of any endorsement. “I’ve been very, very busy for five months and I’m looking forward to relaxing and the chance to see the kids again.”