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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

Now that Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) is back in the race for his own congressional seat, he has to contend with a Democratic opponent, Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray. But his first foray into campaigning has not gone well.

This week, Collins released his first attack ad on McMurray, titled “Take Him At His Word,” and almost immediately it drew outrage.

The ad plays a clip of McMurray speaking Korean and bowing, interspersed with captions saying, “Nate McMurray wants to be your next congressman. Worked to send jobs to China & Korea. Helped American companies hire foreign workers. Fewer jobs for us….more jobs for China & Korea. You can take Nate McMurray at his word.” In the upper left corner, an image flashes of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.

The ad is incredibly racist and xenophobic. And according to The New York Times, it’s also extremely misleading:

Mr. McMurray does not discuss jobs in the video, which he said he recorded earlier in the campaign to highlight his language skills and to express optimism about the possibility of peace between North Korea and South Korea. The full video has since been taken down, but a translation by The New York Times confirmed that the snippet aired in the political ad does not mention jobs.

McMurray, whose wife emigrated from South Korea, calls the ad “hurtful” and says he was watching TV with his son when he saw it. “Can you imagine being in office as long as he has and instead of talking about what he has done for people in this region, he’s trying to malign me for the fact that I speak a foreign language?” McMurray told 7 Eyewitness News. “It’s really desperate.”

Collins, the first sitting congressman to endorse Donald Trump for president, was not even intending to run for another term at all. He initially announced he would not seek re-election after being arrested by the FBI on felony insider trading. Prosecutors say he and his son dumped stock in an Australian biotech company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, based on an advance warning they would announce a clinical trial had failed — a charge he denies.

As it turned out, however, there was no clear way to remove Collins from the ballot ahead of the November election. The only ways to do so would be his death, moving out of state, or running for another office. Republicans tried to go the third route by persuading an Erie County official to resign and create a vacancy Collins could run for, but there were no takers and Democrats threatened to sue if Collins tried it. Finally, Collins gave up and decided to just run for Congress again after all.

New York’s 27th Congressional District, consisting of the suburbs and rural areas between Buffalo and Rochester, is an extremely conservative district that Trump carried by 25 points. It remains to be seen whether Collins’ indictment, and political shenanigans, will make this race a more competitive one.

Matthew Chapman is a video game designer, science fiction author, and political reporter from Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter @fawfulfan.