State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin seen as favorite to replace former Rep. Chris Lee

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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A number of names have been floated as candidates to replace former Rep. Chris Lee, who resigned yesterday after it was reported that he had sent topless photos of himself to a woman on Craigslist. At the moment, State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin seems to be the favorite, according to a New York Republican strategist who said her name had come up often in party circles.

Corwin has already picked up the endorsement of former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, squelching rumors that he himself would run.

In a statement, Corwin said that she would announce her run within the next couple days.

“I know that with a special election looming in weeks, time is of the essence. Should I decide to run for Congress, I can assure all concerned that my campaign would have the resources to win and keep this seat in Republican hands.”

Corwin is described as popular and a strong speaker. According to the strategist, not only does she have the “proven ability to fundraise,” she would be able to self-fund a campaign, which could be important given the abbreviated campaign period before a special election.

The special election will be held 60 to 90 days from when Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledges the empty seat and calls for an election, leaving hopefuls little time to fundraise or campaign.

A candidate’s “financial wherewithal” is something that will certainly play a role in determining who gets the Republican Party endorsement in this traditionally Republican district, said Bill Reilich, chairman of the Monroe County Republican Party.

It’s “going to require a tremendous amount of capital raised,” he said.

Whoever decides to run faces a number of obstacles, not the least of which is that the seat may not exist after New York loses two seats to redistricting

“Does this seat disappear right after whoever wins the election wins? … It’s certainly a risk for a candidate to put a lot of time and money into this race,” the strategist told The Daily Caller.

Reilich suggested that which districts are eliminated would have a lot to do with “who’s sitting on that seat.”

It will be “a natural process that will occur based upon who is stronger or weaker,” he told TheDC.

In a special election, by law, neither party will hold primaries. Instead, the strategist explained, “the Republican and Democratic County Committees within that district will choose candidates.” Only candidates who receive a party endorsement are eligible to run. A candidate can also petition to be on the ballot, but, he said, that would be “difficult to do on short notice.”

The 26th District covers seven counties. On the Republican side, the seven county chairs will speak to the viable candidates and, based on their discussions, will hold a vote to determine which candidate will get the endorsement. The vote is weighted, based on the percentage of the vote that county provided in the 2010 election. Monroe County and Erie County will have the biggest sway.

The exact process for the election will be determined this weekend, when the seven county chairs hold an organizational meeting to decide how exactly to hold the vote.

It is a traditionally Republican district, and whoever receives the GOP nomination will have an advantage, at least by the number of registered voters.