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National Democrats add McMurray to 'Red to Blue' program

WASHINGTON – Democratic congressional candidate Nathan McMurray Wednesday got the strong support from his national party that he's been longing for for months.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is charged with electing more Democrats to the House, added McMurray to its "Red to Blue" program. The move means that McMurray will likely get financial and organizational support to boost his bid against Republican Rep. Chris Collins of Clarence, who had more than twice as much campaign money on hand as McMurray did as of Sept. 30.

“It’s gratifying to have earned this support of the DCCC," McMurray said. "It’s clear that they see what we see: Our grassroots support is real and that we’re building momentum by talking to neighbors, getting small dollar donations, and standing up for what’s right.

The move comes a day after a Spectrum News/Siena College poll found McMurray within 3 percentage points of Collins. Given that the poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4.7 points, the poll indicates the race is, in statistical terms, a dead heat – which is why the DCCC got involved.

"Nate’s emphasis on putting people first has helped him build a strong grassroots campaign that is highly competitive and prepared to bring ethical representation to New York’s 27th Congressional District,” said DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico.

Fundraising, poll show Nate McMurray picking up speed in race against Collins

McMurray had complained for months about the DCCC's failure to devote resources to his campaign.

"I think there is a lot of angst among Democrats who live here because they feel that their efforts are being ignored," McMurray told the New York Times earlier this month.

But in districts such as New York's 27th – a suburban and rural district where Republicans have a natural 11-point advantage – the party often waits to put money down on Democratic candidates until after they've proven themselves to be viable.

A bipertisan team from the Erie County Board of Elections began their count of the 2018 absentee ballots, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. They began with the 5588 ballots from the 27th District. A cart is filled with ballots. These are ballots from Clarence. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

The Spectrum/Siena poll, combined with an internal McMurray survey last week that showed the race to be tied, appeared to give the DCCC the reason it needed to get behind Collins' challenger.

Luján's group did not say exactly how it will help McMurray. But typically, the DCCC provides candidates with fundraising and organizational support, along with guidance, staff and training. The committee also sometimes buys ad time on behalf of its candidates.

National Democrats privately considered McMurray's campaign a lost cause until August, when federal prosecutors in New York hit Collins with felony insider trading charges.

Collins denies the charges, but in response, he suspended his campaign for a month, only to leap back into the fray in mid-September in what increasingly looks like a competitive race.

"Nobody wants a congressman out on bail," McMurray said.

Since re-entering the race, Collins has been bashing McMurray on multiple fronts and in multiple ads.

And even though McMurray has said he will not support the current House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, the backing he received from the DCCC revived Collins' charge that his Democratic opponent is too tightly tied to her, given that the DCCC is part of the party apparatus headed by Pelosi.

"We've said it from Day 1 - Nate McMurray is bought and paid for by Nancy Pelosi's Washington Democrats, and this announcement from her political organization is further proof of that," said Natalie Baldasserre, Collins' campaign spokeswoman. "The more support Nate McMurray receives from Nancy Pelosi and her liberal cronies, the more Nate owes Nancy Pelosi his vote for speaker. It's that simple."

With the addition of McMurray and seven other candidates Wednesday, the DCCC's Red to Blue program is now backing 92 Democratic challengers, including six from New York State. Tracy Mitrano, the Democrat challenging Republican Rep. Tom Reed of Corning, has not been added to the Red to Blue list.

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