Republicans scramble to avoid another New York special election loss

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
Font Size:

Republicans in New York may again face defeat in a safe district filled by a special election. The 26th District, formerly represented by “Craigslist Congressman” Christopher Lee, will be electing a new congressman later this month.

Three candidates have substantial support in polling. Republican Jane Corwin, Democrat Kathleen Hochul and Jack Davis, who is running as a Tea Party candidate.

In a late April Siena poll, Corwin led with 36 percent of the vote to Hochul’s 31 percent. Davis, however, was supported by a significant 23 percent of respondents.

Republicans say that the Tea Party candidate is nothing more than a Democratic plant, chosen as a spoiler to confuse voters.

Corwin released an ad Thursday, calling voters’ attention to Davis’s past as a Democratic candidate for Congress. Corwin says that this puts her competitor in league with opponents of commonly accepted “Tea Party” ideals.

“Davis was a hand-picked candidate of Nancy Pelosi, and said he was proud to help her become speaker,” says the ad. “Davis took thousands of dollars from Barack Obama, and even endorsed his campaign for president.”

Davis ran in the district as a Democrat in 2004 and 2006. “Democrat Jack Davis, he just can’t be trusted,” says the ad.

In an ad of his own, Davis attacks both major parties for supporting free trade agreements, Wall Street bailouts, and corporate tax breaks.

“Now, to make us pay for it all, Republican Jane Corwin wants to replace Medicare with vouchers and Democrat Kathy Hochul wants to raise taxes again,” says Davis’ ad, promising that “independent Jack Davis will be a congressman for the rest of us, opposing trade deals, fighting for our jobs.”

Also running in the district is Buffalo Beast editor Ian Murphy, as a Green Party candidate. Murphy attracted national attention for impersonating David Koch on a call with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, but only polled at 1 percent support in the Sienna poll.

New York Democratic Sen. Kristen Gillibrand came out swinging for Hochul this week. In a fundraising letter to EMILY’s list supporters, Gillibrand said, “With Kathy on the ballot, Democrats have a real shot at cutting into the Republican House majority this year.”

Other national Democrats have kept Hochul at an arms length compared with the embrace that Corwin has received ahead of the May 24 election.

An internal Hochul campaign poll, reported by Politico Friday, shows an extremely close race with 31 percent support for Corwin, 30 percent for Hochul, and 26 percent for Davis.

The special election in poised to be a repeat of the 2009 special election in New York’s 23rd district, when the Republican vote was divided between liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, allowing for Democrat Bill Owens to win in the traditionally Republican district.

Jane Corwin ad attacking “Democrat Jack Davis”

Jack Davis ad attacking Corwin and Hochul: