Washington (CNN) – A hefty third party advertising buy is bringing renewed national attention to New York's 26th district as the race there becomes a referendum of sorts on the House GOP budget plan.
The May 24th special election pits Republican New York State Assembly member Jane Corwin against Democrat Kathleen Hochul and independent Tea Party candidate Jack Davis, a conservative former Democrat who may siphon votes from Corwin.
The seat was vacated amidst a high-profile scandal when Republican Rep. Chris Lee resigned in April after the website Gawker exposed correspondence the two-term married Congressman had with a woman via Craigslist. He allegedly sent a bare-chested photo of himself to the woman.
The conservative 527 organization, American Crossroads, will sponsor ads in support of Corwin in Buffalo and Rochester starting Wednesday. A week of spots will be paid for by the approximately $350,000 buy.
Crossroads communications director Jonathan Collegio said Davis and Hochul are perpetuating a "Democratic trick" because Davis may potentially take votes away from Corwin.
"This race has become artificially competitive because liberal Democrat Jack Davis is now trying to pass himself off as a conservative while the other liberal Democrat, Katie Hochul, is benefiting from his trick," Collegio said in a statement. "This ad buy seeks to expose the Democrat trick for what it is."
Republican voters greatly outnumber Democratic voters in the Western district that includes suburbs of Buffalo and Rochester. Then-Republican presidential nominee John McCain won the district by six points in 2008 and Lee won re-election by a three to one margin last November.
According to a Democratic source, the Democratic Congressional Committee has raised or spent roughly $100,000 for the campaign, considered by recent polling to be a competitive race. Although the fundraising arm has yet to decide on an ad buy, the source said the Medicare vote is hurting Republicans in the New York district.
"The fact that an overwhelmingly Republican district where the GOP having to defend a seat that should be theirs proves that their vote to end Medicare has a political cost," the source said.
Hochul has criticized the Medicare privatization plan in Rep. Paul Ryan's budget passed by the House Republican majority.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has released web ads highlighting Hochul's record and held fundraisers with House Speaker John Boehner, NRCC Chairman Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas and House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor.
But Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the number two House Democrat tried to tamp down expectations Tuesday, describing the area as "a heavily Republican district." He described the race as "very, very difficult," before adding that it is "possible" Democrats could pick up the seat.
"Should we win that election, as I think is possible, I think it would send a very clear, very loud message that the American public is looking at what's been done so far and does not believe it's reflective of what they want done," Hoyer said.