State Senator Tim Kennedy and Nate McMurray are fighting for the Democratic Nomination for the vacant seat in Congress.

When Rep. Brian Higgins announced he’d be leaving Congress to run Shea’s earlier this year, it was no surprise that State Senator Tim Kennedy (D) stepped up and announced his intentions to run for the seat. 

It should have come as no surprise that Nate McMurray, the former supervisor of Grand Island who has previously run for a job in Washington, DC, would also show interest in the job. 

Both men have a long record of speaking up and out in what they believe are the best interests of their constituents, with Kennedy representing Western New York in the state Senate since January 2011 and McMurray first being elected to public office as Grand Island Supervisor in 2015 by a 14-vote margin before he set his sights on running for Congress against then- Representative Chris Collins in 2018. Collins dropped out of that race in August 2018 after being indicted on federal insider trading charges, later reversing his decision and narrowly beating McMurray to hang on to his seat until he resigned in September 2019. 

McMurray ran again to try to take Collins’ vacated seat in June 2020 before he was defeated by Rep. Chris Jacobs (R) for New York’s 27th district. 

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McMurray announced his intent to run for a special election, scheduled for April 30, to fill Higgins’ seat in New York’s 26th district, later taking himself out of the race to avoid a split Democratic ticket, as Kennedy is up against challenger Gary Dickson, the West Seneca town supervisor, to fulfill the remainder of Higgins’ time in office. (Early voting for this race begins Saturday.) 

 McMurray said at the time he still intended to run for the same seat later this year, for a full four-year term. 

Kennedy Takes Legal Action Against McMurray

Kennedy has taken action to displace McMurray from a June primary for the full term. 

On April 8, he filed a 16-page lawsuit claiming some of the signatures McMurray submitted on his petition to become a candidate were invalid and causing him to have far less than the 1,250 signatures required to be on the ballot. McMurray said he had more than 1,400 signatures but the lawsuit suggests more than 1,000 were invalid. 

McMurray believes this lawsuit is another attempt to keep him out of office. “The leadership here in Western New York will do anything to avoid a primary with Mr. Kennedy, ‘cause let’s face it, his beliefs, his track record and his overall character? Yeah, they’re flawed,” McMurray said in a Facebook post. “We could do much better. And I wish 1,000 people primaried him, but they didn’t. So I did. And he sued me to stop it.” 

McMurray's Candidacy

Things will move quickly from here, with the New York State Board of Elections scheduled to decide whether McMurray’s petition for candidacy, and the signatures therein, are valid; Kennedy, meanwhile, is asking for an earlier decision. The primary for November’s election, to secure the seat for four years, will take place on June 25, and at least one of these two candidates will be on it. 

Currently, the seat representing New York’s 26th district, which stretches from Lewiston to Olcott down to West Seneca and encompassing the city of Buffalo, is vacant and has been since Higgins joined Shea’s in early February. A full rundown of the special election and the district can be found here

Early Voting Locations in Buffalo for 2024 Elections

There are 11 locations in the City of Buffalo where early votes can be cast for the New York State 2024 Elections

Gallery Credit: Ed Nice

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