Indicted Congressman Chris Collins, (R) of New York, announced that he will not run for re-election in November as he battles federal charges for insider trading.

"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 Donald Trump's agenda for me to suspend my campaign," he wrote in a statement posted on his official Twitter account.

Federal prosecutors last Thursday charged Collins with providing his son, Cameron Collins, nonpublic information about drug trial results for a biotechnology company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, where the congressman sat on the board of directors.

Cameron Collins and several others allegedly used the information to avoid more than US$768,000 in losses to their own stock holdings.

Advertisement

Collins, the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, has pleaded not guilty and initially pledged to fight the charges while continuing to campaign in one of the most Republican-leaning districts in New York, which includes the outskirts of Rochester, Niagara Falls and Buffalo along Lake Ontario.

Democrats, who have long seen the district as a long shot, pounced on the allegations against Collins by arguing that they highlighted corruption in the Republican Party, which is emerging as a major campaign theme.

"He was part of that same money machine that protects all of them," said Nate McMurray, the town supervisor of Grand Island, who won the Democratic nomination for Collin's seat. "We need new voices in this country."

McMurray, who has struggled to raise funds, said his campaign had raised about US$100,000 since the indictment was announced, nearly doubling his previous reported fundraising. He said the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had also offered his campaign more support.

Hours after Collins' announcement, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D), said Speaker Paul Ryan should call for the New York congressman's immediate resignation.

"No person is above the law, not the President or his first supporter in Congress," Pelosi said. "This insufficient and overdue announcement does little to drain the toxic cesspool of self-enrichment, special interest deals and corruption that has proliferated in Washington under GOP control."


Democrats need to pick up 23 seats in the House to gain control of the chamber next year, though the party is likely to focus its energy on dozens of other seats that are more competitive, even after the news of the indictments. In the 2016 election, Trump beat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the district by nearly 25 percentage points.

Under New York state law, candidates who have been nominated by a party are bound to appear on the ballot with a few specific exceptions, such as when the candidate moves outside the district or gets nominated for another position in the same election.

Advertisement

"What officials are likely to do is nominate him for a town clerkship, which will allow him to vacate the ballot legally," said a Republican consultant involved in the race. It was not clear if Collins would actually serve as a town clerk if he is elected to that office.

Local party officials believe there is still time for them to choose a new candidate to get that person's name onto the ballot for the election, the consultant said.

Carl Paladino, a former New York GOP governor candidate who served as the co-chair of Donald Trump's 2016 campaign in the state, is one of many Republicans who have asked to be considered to replace Collins on the congressional ballot, if his name is removed.