Kathy Hochul won a special Congressional election in New York Tuesday that, depending on one’s political point-of-view, is either a fluke or a harbinger for next year’s elections. Democrat Hochul, the Erie County Clerk, received 47 percent of the vote in New York’s 26th House district that encompasses suburban Buffalo.
Republican Jane Corwin, a member of the state assembly, garnered 43 percent. Business owner Jack Davis totaled eight percent. Davis ran on the Tea Party ballot line. Tea Partiers generally consider themselves to be conservative.
However, Davis ran for the 26th district seat three times previously as a Democrat. He unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination before yesterday’s election. Republicans blame Davis for a “stealth” candidacy that split the GOP vote and enabled Hochul to win a rare Democratic victory in the district.
Democrats praise Hochul for rallying from a big early deficit in the heavily Republican district. They say Hochul’s unrelenting criticism of a Congressional Republican plan to cut Medicare spending as part of a budget reduction program was the key to victory.
Democrats outside Buffalo point to the plan, championed by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, as the way to regain the House majority. They point to recent surveys that indicate Americans do not want Medicare benefits reduced.
Republicans believe the 2012 general elections will be a better litmus test since all 435 House seats will be contested. There will also be primaries next year so the odds of multiple candidates splitting a constituency–therefore enabling upsets–will be lessened.
The seat became open when Republican Rep. Chris Lee resigned in February. His Craig’s List ad soliciting women that featured a shirtless picture of himself was discovered. Shortly thereafter, the married father quit his office.