As we recently learned, New York Republican Congressman Chris Collins (27th District) has decided to restart his reelection campaign despite facing insider trading charges. This settles the complicated question of how to get him off the ballot and allow a less… controversial candidate to run, but now he has to actually win the race. He’s facing Democrat Nate McMurray in what should have been an easy contest without all of this talk of federal prosecution. McMurray is a town supervisor from Grand Island, New York and a virtual unknown in national political circles.
But Collins seems to be taking the challenge seriously. In fact, he’s serious enough that he’s unleashed his first attack ad on McMurray. But as the New York Times points out, it’s a bit over the top in terms of trying to tie McMurray to Korea, Kim Jong-un and… other things.
Mr. Collins attacked his Democratic challenger for the Buffalo-area seat, Nate McMurray, in a racially tinged television ad that draws on a video that Mr. McMurray released ahead of a June summit between the United States and North Korea.
The ad features Mr. McMurray, whose wife is a naturalized citizen from South Korea, speaking in Korean, with captions provided by the Collins campaign. As Mr. McMurray speaks, the ad suggests that Mr. McMurray wanted “fewer jobs for us … more jobs for China and Korea.”
At another point, the ad asserts that Mr. McMurray “helped American companies hire foreign workers,” as a picture of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, hovers in the background.
“You can take Nate McMurray at his word,” it concludes.
Take a look for yourself.
Attacking McMurray for speaking Korean (which is how this comes across) is painfully inept and comes off as a pretty racist move, frankly. The guy’s wife is a naturalized citizen from South Korea, which is an ally of ours. And the clip he’s using doesn’t mention jobs, but rather optimism that the two Koreas might settle their differences and bring an end to the conflict on the peninsula. The whole thing just comes off as a mess which is easily refuted by his opponent.
The better question might be why Collins is bothering with an attack ad anyway. The race is no doubt a bit tougher now than it would have been before his arrest, but the Cook Political Report still has him in the Lean Republican category. There doesn’t appear to be any new polling on the race since he jumped back in, but it’s at least an R+11 district. Collins is sitting on $1.3M in campaign funds while his opponent can barely cover his staff’s expenses. But he needs to play this intelligently because his opponent is definitely ready for some hardball. Check out this recent tweet from the McMurray campaign.
The only federal building Collins belongs in is a penitentiary.
Collins, you bossed and bullied your way through your entire life. It’s time for you to feel what it’s like to be on the other side. It’s time for accountability.
So listen to me carefully…
LOCK. HIM. UP.
— Nate McMurray (@Nate_McMurray) September 20, 2018
Wouldn’t it be smarter to develop some ads declaring your innocence regarding the federal charges, touting your experience and, at most, pointing out that McMurry is an unknown quantity on top of being a liberal? It just seems as if Collins could play this relatively safe and still coast (or at least limp) over the finish line. After that, it really doesn’t much matter what happens. If he prevails in his court case then everything stays as it is. If he’s convicted, he resigns and a special election puts a new Republican in his place.
We could still lose this seat to the Democrats if Collins plays his hand poorly. And this first campaign ad doesn’t do much to inspire confidence.