Jacobs, McMurray spar in debate for NY-27, drawing clear differences
BUFFALO – Chris Jacobs doesn’t have the “backbone” to stand up to Donald Trump.
Nate McMurray would be “Nancy Pelosi’s baby.”
That was the tenor of an hour-long debate tonight between the two major-party candidates in the 27th Congressional District, an eight-county district that with a big Republican enrollment advantage. The special election is June 23, although there will be an option for early voting from June 13 to June 21 at the Board of Elections office in Albion.
Jacobs, the Republican candidate, is a current state senator from Buffalo. He previously was an Erie County clerk and a member of the Buffalo Board of Education. He comes from a wealthy family. The Jacobs family owns Delaware North. His uncle Jeremy Jacobs owns the Boston Bruins NHL team.
McMurray’s father died of cancer at age 39. McMurray’s mother raised seven children. McMurray, a Democrat, is an Eagle Scout who went to a community college before being a Fulbright scholar and earning a law degree. He worked as an attorney for Delaware North.
Now he vowed to “fight like hell” for the people of the Western New York. He said he is passionate about representing small towns, mentioned Albion, Warsaw and Batavia during a debate on Channel 4 in Buffalo. McMurray said Jacobs has never been to most of the towns in the district.
Jacobs has offered nothing publicly the past week and half during Black Lives Matters demonstrations. And he said nothing with Trump’s tweet today suggesting a 75-year-old protestor injured by Buffalo police officers wanted to be hurt in a setup against the police. Trump said the protestor could be an “ANTIFA provocateur.”
McMurray said Trump’s tweet was an embarassment to the country and to the people of Buffalo. McMurray condemned the president for his comments.
He called on Jacobs to do the same. Jacobs said more study is needed of the incident. The protestor approached the police when being asked to step back, Jacobs said.
“We need to get to the bottom of the situation and what happened there,” Jacobs said.
He was shocked two of the Buffalo officers were charged with felonies.
“I believe they were doing their job and didn’t have intent to injure,” Jacobs said.
McMurray called on Jacobs to denounce the Trump tweet.
“You don’t have the guts to stand up to this man,” McMurray said. “What he did embarrassed our city.”
Jacobs declined to address Trump’s tweet, and told McMurray he was having “a temper tantrum.”
McMurray vowed to be a straight shooter with the public, and not dodge questions. He said he stand up to Trump and Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, if they were pushing policies that hurt WNY.
He would also stand up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo when warranted. McMurray said the governor has led the state admirably in the fight against Covid-19. But McMurray said he would support an investigation into the outbreak of cases and deaths at nursing homes from Covid-19, and if Cuomo’s directives had a role in the spike of cases.
Jacobs said the high death toll in nursing homes is a tragedy that didn’t need to happen. He cited the deaths at The Villages of Orleans in Albion. Jacobs said that one nursing home accounts for 97 percent of the county’s deaths from Covid-19. (The Villages actually represents 62.5 percent, or 30 of the 48 deaths in the county. Orchard Rehabilitation & Nursing Center has had 17 deaths, and one other community resident has died from Covid-19 in Orleans.)
The governor’s directives failed the nursing home residents, an “error in judgement that was so grievous” an investigation is needed, Jacobs said.
McMurray made it clear he supports the Black Lives Matter movement and ending police brutality, including chokeholds. “Millions are demonstrating for a reason,” McMurray said.
Jacobs said he voted in the State Senate to ban chokeholds by police. But he said he doesn’t fully support BLM, including a push to defund police. He also said a small group of protestors who looted and rioted have hurt the BLM movement. Jacobs favors more dialogue.
McMurray said Jacobs failed to speak out about George Floyd’s death at the hands of the Minneapolis police officer, and has been silent on the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. McMurray immediately condemned the killing, and has joined demonstrators at BLM marches.
The overwhelming percentage of police do a “fantastic job,” and aren’t corrupt or racist, Jacobs said. He favors “law and order” and also said he supports “peaceful protests.”
Jacobs said McMurray wants to defund police, and McMurray interjected that Jacobs was lying.
“He lies in his commercials and now he lies right here,” McMurray said.
Jacobs then said McMurray supports “sanctuary cities.”
“All this guy does is lie,” McMurray again interjected. “He is trying to buy this position.”
The candidates were asked whether they support Trump’s threat to use the Insurrection Act to tamp down demonstrations with the military. Trump also has reportedly told governor to “dominate” the protestors.
McMurray said Trump has hurt the US image to the world with his talk of suppressing the demonstrators.
“People look up to us around the world and President Trump is embarrassing,” McMurray said. “It’s not America anymore when you have your citizens being attacked by the military.”
Jacobs said the peaceful protests were “hijacked by rioters and radicals.”
Jacobs said he would support a conservative agenda, opposing abortion, backing Second Amendment rights and pushing for Trump’s economic policies.
He said McMurray and other Democrats are exploiting Covid-19, the economic downturn and the Black Lives Matters demonstrations to push socialism.
The two candidates said the federal government needs to put money into infrastructure projects, including broadband internet in rural communities. McMurray said Trump talked of infrastructure but has done nothing, even when he had a Republican majority in Congress the first two years of his term.
McMurray wants a federal stimulus package that would provide aid to local governments and school districts. He would support ending the Trump tax cuts to direct more money to everyday people.
Jacobs said he is wary of the federal government giving stimulus funds to the state, which he had has been poorly managed the past 30 years.
The best cure for the local revenue shortfall is reopening the state’s economy. Jacobs said he would like to see phases 3 and 4 combined, so it isn’t a dragged out process that prolongs job losses and economic pain.
“We have to get working again,” Jacobs said. “That’s the main way to get going.”
McMurray said the country has needlessly suffered from Covid-19, with more than 100,000 dead largely due to the president’s mishandling and lack of preparation in the crisis. McMurray worries that Trump isn’t taking Covid-19 seriously enough and the country is vulnerable if a new wave hits in the fall.
Other countries have been far more effective than the United States in containing the spread and minimizing damage to their economy, McMurray said.
“It’s a fiasco what has happened in our country,” he said about the Covid-19 response.
Jacobs said McMurray doesn’t represent the values of the conservative 27thCongressional district by supporting abortion and a big government approach.
McMurray said he is an Eagle Scout, who has spent lots of time the past the two years in the eight counties. He said Jacobs couldn’t find the communities on a map.
McMurray said Jacobs would be “another Chris,” like the recent WNY Congressional representatives – Chris Collins and Chris Lee – both multimillionaires who resigned in disgrace.
Jacobs said he has a long history of community service, from his work in government to his business dealings.
“I have governed and represented with integrity,” Jacobs said. “I have the skill set to be impactful.”
But McMurray said his opponent is a flip-flopper who distanced himself from Trump but now fully embraces him.
“He didn’t need to be a fake,” McMurray said about Jacobs. “He will change on a dime.”