Local Dems give McMurray a boost in home stretch of election

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 October 2020 at 12:40 pm

Congressional candidate, speaking in Albion, urges voters to look beyond party labels

Photos by Tom Rivers: Kathy Pace wears a mask of “Animal” from the Muppets and holds a sign, “Crazy for McMurray.” She was among a group of supporters for Nate McMurray, right, at the intersection of Main and Park streets in Albion at about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

ALBION – Nate McMurray made a campaign stop in Albion on Wednesday evening and he is optimistic he will emerge the victor in a Congressional race against incumbent Chris Jacobs.

The district is heavily stacked in a Republican’s favor. McMurray lost a very close race in 2018 to Chris Collins and then a special election on June 23 to fill a vacancy after Collins resigned due to insider trading. (Collins is serving his 26-month prison term at a minimum security federal prison camp in Pensacola.)

The Nov. 3 election is for a full two-year term. The district is the most Republican-leaning in the state. Republicans have a sizable edge in registered voters in the 8-county district, 194,901 compared to 153,511 Democrats.

There are also 13,957 registered members of the Conservative Party, 27,197 members of the Independence Party and 108,589 “blanks” or unaffiliated voters.

“It is a difficult district, I’m not going to lie,” McMurray said in Albion. “It was designed for any Republican to win.”

Long-time Orleans County Democratic Party leaders Jeanne Crane, left, and Aggie Recco hold McMurray signs as part of a rally along Main Street.

McMurray believes he has stronger name recognition than Jacobs, and McMurray said he has met thousands of voters while campaigning since 2018. He said he has been to Orleans County a hundred times and is very familiar with the small towns throughout the district.

“I hope people look beyond the labels,” McMurray said in an interview at Albion. “I’m a blue-collar person who is a Democrat in the old-school way, saying that we have to fight for blue-collar and working class jobs, and that’s what I’m here for.”

McMurray, speaking to supporters on Wednesday, said Albion is one of the most striking places in the entire district with the Courthouse Square, downtown and Erie Canal.

Nate McMurray greets a supporter outside the Pullman Memorial Universalist Church in Albion. About 30 people attended a get-out-the-vote rally.

McMurray addressed supporters from the pulpit at the Pullman Memorial Universalist Church. But before he did, he wanted to know the history of the church.

“How beautiful is this place?” McMurray said looking around the church sanctuary. “Can someone please give us the history of this building.”

Bill Lattin, a retired county historian, stood up and shared how George Pullman had the church built as a memorial for his parents in 1894. George grew up in Albion and moved to Chicago and made a fortune making comfortable railroad sleeping cars. The Pullman church includes 43 Tiffany stained glass windows.

McMurray, at the beginning of his remarks, also praised Jeanne Crane, who recently stepped down as chairwoman of the Orleans County Democratic Party. She has always been encouraging in a “Long fight,” McMurray said.

“Jeanne Crane is here and we love her,” McMurray said. “She is a wonderful human being.”

Crane said McMurray has frequently been to the county and reached out to local Democrativ leaders.

“He came to us early and attends many of our functions,” Crane said. “He is down to earth and cordial.”

Jim Renfrew of Clarendon holds a McMurray sign up high.

McMurray, an attorney and former Grand Island town supervisor, said he will need more than Democrats to win. He said he has been close in the past two elections due to conservatives and independents crossing over.

He urged Republicans to give him a chance.

“I feel if I could meet every single person I would win,” McMurray said. “But party labels go a long way still. Party-line politics has caused problems for Western New York.”

He has been hindered in connecting with voters because so many festivals, county fairs and parades have been cancelled due to Covid-19.

He has been active on social media, connecting with 10,000 followers on Facebook and 20,000 followers on Twitter.

Nate McMurray addressed supporters from the pulpit of the Pullman church. He marveled at the beauty of the church and also said Albion is one of the prettiest towns in the 27th Congressional District with its striking Courthouse Square, downtown business district and Erie Canal.

McMurray said when people meet him, he doesn’t fit the stereotypes depicted in the ads the past three years from his opponents.

“I think the message is out there but it’s hard to fight $10 million in negative advertisements, because that’s what they’ve thrown at me the past three years,” McMurray said. “Some people think I’m a devil or something but when they meet me they’re like, ‘This guy is a nice guy.’”

He has used grass roots support, about 4,000 small donations, to fund the campaign. His volunteers also sent out 70,000 hand-written postcards.

“You find me a campaign that has ever done that in the country,” McMurray said.

He blamed President Trump for fueling divisions in the country. The president also has offered an incompetent response to the Covid-19 pandemic and Jacobs has refused to offer any criticism for Trump’s handling of the crisis, McMurray said.

The country needs Joe Biden, “a decent man” who would bring the country together and work for all Americans, McMurray said.

“I believe in America,” McMurray told his supporters at the Pullman event. “America can redeem itself.”

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