Deep divisions on view in NY-27 debate as candidates stick to party lines

New York City

For more than an hour on Wednesday, the trio of contenders for New York’s 27th Congressional District fielded tough questions from a panel during the St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute annual debate — each sticking to party positions less than two weeks before Election Day.

It was only after the debate, when Libertarian candidate Duane Whitmer accused Democrat Nate McMurray of filing a political lawsuit against the company owned by the family of incumbent Republican Chris Jacobs, that the affair took on a new tone. In one of the few occasions the minor party candidate has faced microphones and notebooks, Whitmer questioned if McMurray is suing Delaware North Cos. — the Democrat’s former employer — to cast a negative focus on Jacobs just before voters go to the polls.

McMurray’s answer: “No comment.”

On Tuesday, McMurray sued Delaware North, charging that his former employer pressured him not to run for Congress against Jacobs, the nephew of the company’s chairman.

“McMurray [a former Delaware North vice president] was discriminated against because of his political activities,” the lawsuit alleges. “McMurray was placed on unpaid leave because he ran a political campaign against a member of the Jacobs family.

But McMurray, a lawyer, would not answer reporters’ questions about the litigation’s timing (no questions were posed about its merits), claiming he could not discuss a matter now before a court.

“I’m not going to talk about it,” he said. “I’ll let the facts speak for themselves.”

That exchange over the politics of the election came after a debate in which candidates reiterated their well-documented positions. Indeed, McMurray is finishing his third run for the post in the last two years, narrowly losing to former Rep. Chris Collins in 2018 and to Jacobs in a June special election.

But on Wednesday, Jacobs doubled down on his support for President Trump and his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, saying the president had done a “good job” in closing the nation to China and “saving hundreds of thousands of lives.”

“Is it perfect? Absolutely not,” Jacobs said, adding the “global community has not gotten this right.”

But McMurray jumped on the Jacobs view, labeling Trump’s reaction to the crisis a “historic fiasco.”

“He lied to us,” McMurray said of the president. “He knew how dangerous it was.”

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Jani Afroj

Property Manager, Credit Specialist and Writer in addition to being a mother of four kids, two dogs, two birds and a turtle. Loves sarcasm, wine, and humor.