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Orientation Disorientation: The Maybe Members Have a Strange Status

Democrat Nate McMurray says he was barred, but organizers say he is welcome

Democrat Nate McMurray says he was barred from new member orientation, but organizers say he’s invited. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Democrat Nate McMurray says he was barred from new member orientation, but organizers say he’s invited. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Indicted Republican Rep. Chris Collins’ Democratic challenger Nate McMurray says House Republicans barred him from attending new member orientation Wednesday, but organizers say he is welcome to attend. Such is the plight of the so-called maybe members. 

Traditionally, candidates in races that are too close to call days after Election Day are invited to attend the freshman orientation. Earlier this week, Democratic staff for the House Administration Committee said that was the case again this year.

“After traveling to Washington to train alongside my peers, including others in contested races, I was informed that Rep. Gregg Harper, Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, had personally denied my participation even after House Democratic leadership continued to advocate on my behalf,” said McMurray in a statement Wednesday.

“I came to D.C. to equip myself to hit the ground running and better serve the people of Western New York once the results are official,” he said.

McMurray conceded defeat on election night, but at 1 a.m., pivoted to call for a recount. His concession may have cost him the invite to orientation. Harper did not purposefully leave the New York Democrat out of orientation, a committee spokesperson told Roll Call on Wednesday evening.

McMurray will be getting an invitation to the remainder of orientation, according to the same committee aide. A second week of orientation continues after the Thanksgiving holiday.

She said House Administration staffers work on a bipartisan basis to put together the list of what new members and candidates are invited.

McMurray was able to attend the Democratic events during orientation and he said House Administration Democrats offered to come to upstate New York to help train him and his staff.

Other “maybe members” in town for orientation this week include Republican Young Kim, candidate for California’s 39th District and Texas Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, whose 23rd District race against GOP Rep. Will Hurd is yet to be called. Each were in attendance for various orientation events, including the freshman class photo and House Republican leadership elections.

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