(Reuters) – Republican U.S. Representative Chris Collins, who has been charged with taking part in an insider trading scheme, will stay on the ballot in November after reversing a decision to suspend his campaign, a New York Republican official said on Monday.
Collins’ decision to seek a fourth two-year term could potentially boost Democrats‘ chances for winning a western New York district that had been considered solidly Republican.
Democrats need to flip 23 Republican-held seats in the Nov. 6 congressional elections to take control of the 435-seat House of Representatives, which would increase oversight of the Trump administration and likely stymie much of its legislative agenda.
Collins, 68, the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump‘s presidential bid in 2016, said last month he would suspend his campaign, although he has denied the charges against him.
But following advice from his legal team, Collins has decided to remain the Republican nominee, Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy told reporters. Under New York election laws, removing the name of a candidate from the ballot is a difficult process.
Collins’ attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“This comes as a disappointment to Republican leaders, myself along with others across this district,” Langworthy said. “We thought it would be better to offer voters a choice of a candidate that did not face a distraction of a legal defense at this time.”
Federal prosecutors have accused Collins, who sat on the board of a biotechnology company, of providing inside information about the results of a drug trial to his son and others.
Collins’ case is unlikely to reach trial until next year, and Langworthy said he would expect Collins to step down if he wins election and is then convicted.
The county Republicans will not be spending money on Collins’ re-election bid because they had already reached spending limits on federal races, the Republican official said.
Nate McMurray, Collins’ Democratic challenger, called the original plan to replace Collins on the ballot “a sham” and said in a statement he was excited to continue campaigning against Collins.
(Reporting by Makini Brice in Washington; Editing by Joseph Ax and Peter Cooney)