As the Western New York political world turns its attention to the state’s 27th congressional district, Democratic candidate Nate McMurray has secured his first major endorsement.

McMurray’s campaign announced he has the support of Niagara County Democratic Committee Chairman Jason Zona. The seat has been vacant since late-September when Republican Chris Collins resigned shortly before pleading guilty to federal insider trading charges.

The governor is required by law to call a special election and has indicated he prefer it happen in April, at the same time as the already-scheduled Democratic presidential primary. Once called, the party chairs for the eight counties in the district will designate candidates.

“Nate did well in Niagara County last year against a strong political machine and has a lot of grassroots support throughout much of the county. As county chair, I support him in a special election run, and I anticipate the members of our county committee will do so as well when we convene in the near future,” Zona said.

Zona is the first county chair to publicly endorse McMurray this cycle, although the candidate did have the support of the local committees when he ran in 2018. McMurray narrowly lost to the already-indicted Collins in New York’s reddest district.

“I am proud to have the support of Jay Zona as I run to finish the job we started in 2018. For too long, this district that has been without real representation in Washington. I am running to restore honor and integrity to this position, and will continue to fight for the resources our working families need – good healthcare, well-paying jobs, and better infrastructure. While we wait for the special election to be called, it is empowering to know I have Jay on my side,” McMurray said.

Even before Collins resigned, a handful of Republicans had already announced their intentions to run in a June primary. Others may still enter the race.

McMurray is the only announced Democrat so far.