Rep. Chris Collins announces Saturday he is suspending his re-election campaign

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UNITED STATES – APRIL 18 – Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., prepares for a television interview before Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the First Niagara Center, in Buffalo, N.Y., Monday, April 19, 2016. Collins was the first congressional endorsement for Trump. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Last Updated Aug 11, 2018 1:10 PM EDT

Rep. Chris Collins, R-New York, announced Saturday morning that he is suspending his re-election campaign. Collins was indicted on insider trading charges for allegedly using his knowledge as a board member of a biotechnology company to help his son make illicit stock trades.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Collins said he decided it is in the best interests of constituents, the Republican Party and President Trump’s agenda to suspend his re-election campaign to Congress, adding that he “will fill out the remaining few months” of his term.

The decision marks a reversal. At a press conference Wednesday evening, Collins said he intended to run for re-election. 

While Collins’ district is solidly Republican, the charges against him have helped national Democrats see the race against him in a new light. After the charges, Democrats viewed his seat as vulnerable.

Collin’s statement Saturday indicated he believes Republicans may have a better chance of keeping a hold on the district if he doesn’t run. 

“Democrats are laser focused on taking back the House, electing Nancy Pelosi speaker and then launching impeachment proceedings against President Trump,” Collins said in the statement. “They would like nothing more than to elect an ‘impeach Trump’ Democrat in this district, which is something that neither our country or my party can afford.”

Nate McMurray, Collins’ Democratic opponent, has said that he would not vote for current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House.

National Republicans also may believe a re-election bid by Collins would be a liability to their goal of maintaining the House majority.

“I respect Chris Collins’ decision to step down while he faces these serious allegations. As I’ve said before, Congress must hold ourselves to the highest possible standard,” Rep. Steve Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement.

Under New York law, however, Collins has to be nominated for another office to be removed from the congressional ballot. A GOP official familiar with the race said one likely course of action is that Collins will be nominated for town clerkship in September when the state primary occurs, which would remove him from the House ballot. The county chairs would then select a new nominee for the seat, since the federal primary occurred in June.

Collins, his son, and his son’s fiancee’s father were arraigned on Wednesday. Each of them pleaded not guilty to charges of wire fraud, conspiracy and others. Collins denied any wrongdoing at his conference on Wednesday, and did so again in his statement Saturday.

“I will also continue to fight the meritless charges brought against me and I look forward to having my good name cleared of any wrongdoing,” he said.

After Collin’s Saturday announcement, Pelosi asked House Speaker Paul Ryan to call for Collins’ resignation. If he were to resign, he would not fill out the remainder of his term, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo would have to set a special election.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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