Collins’ exit prompts GOP scramble, ballot questions

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Republicans may have to nominate Congressman Chris Collins for another political office in order to strip his name from the November ballot after the three-term conservative lawmaker dropped his re-election bid following insider trading charges.

The odd move may be necessitated by New York state election law, which sharply defines how a candidate’s name can legally be erased from the ballot. Death is one. Disqualification for not being a U.S. citizen or at least 25 years old is another. A third, and the only possibility likely to apply to Collins, would allow him to remove his name if he accepts a nomination for another office, such as county clerk or district attorney.

Republican leaders from the eight counties in Collins’ western New York district will soon meet to discuss the party’s next steps following Collins’ announcement that he would get out of the race. He was charged last week with illegally using inside information about a biotech company to help his son avoid hundreds of thousands of dollars in loses when one of the company’s drugs failed in a medical trial. Collins has pleaded not guilty and vowed to fight the charges.

Several Republicans have either announced campaigns or been mentioned as possible contenders for Collins’ seat, which represents the area between Rochester and Buffalo. They include state Assemblyman Ray Walter; Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw; state Sen. Robert Ortt; real estate developer Carl Paladino, who made a failed bid for governor in 2010; and David Bellavia, a local radio show host who lost to Collins in the 2012 primary.

Local party leaders will pick Collins’ replacement for the ballot.

“Nobody wanted to be in this position. It’s an absolute shame that this happened, but it is what it is,” Walter told The Associated Press on Monday. “It’s a conservative Republican district ... luckily we have a whole bunch of candidates.”

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