Is congressional election in national spotlight a referendum on Medicare?
May 12th, 2011
09:40 AM ET
3 years ago

Is congressional election in national spotlight a referendum on Medicare?

Washington (CNN) - As two of the three candidates in a special election to fill a vacant congressional seat in upstate New York get ready to debate, another major national political organization has jumped into the ad wars, another sign that a once semi-obscure local election is now firmly in the national spotlight.

The candidates, Republican state Assemblywoman Jane Corwin and Democrat Kathleen Hochul face off Thursday morning. The other person in the contest, tea party candidate Jack Davis, a conservative Democrat, has backed out of the debate, and says both Corwin and Hochul are lying about his record.

The winner of the May 24th special election will fill the seat of Republican Rep. Chris Lee, who quickly resigned in April hours after the gossip website Gawker posted photos and e-mails from the married Congressman soliciting a date with a woman through the website Craigslist.

The National Republican Congressional Committee's independent expenditure group on Wednesday made an ad purchase of around $265,000 in Buffalo and Rochester, backing Corwin.

The independent expenditure units of the re-election parties conduct TV and radio advertising, as well as direct mail, polling and get out the vote efforts.

The NRCC ad buy supplements their other initiatives in the contest, which include internet efforts and nightly phone banks.

An outside conservative 527 organization, American Crossroads, has already started airing TV commercials in support of Corwin in the Buffalo and Rochester markets. The weeklong $350,000 buy started Wednesday. Crossroads says they may spend more money on the contest.

Here's another sign of how important this contest is to the GOP: House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia also made trips to the district to campaign for Corwin in recent days.

Republican voters greatly outnumber Democratic voters in New York's 26th congressional 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. But recent polls suggest the contest is competitive between Corwin and Hochul.

Top House Democrats say the close race is evidence that House Republicans' support for a proposal to dramatically change Medicare is already hurting GOP candidates with voters. Asked about the impact of the Medicare issue on the New York race, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said Wednesday, "That certainly is a race that was not in play and now it is."

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ed Markey was more blunt, predicting the issue is producing blowback for Republicans not just in New York.

"Medicare has razor-blade-sharp edges and it's drawing political blood in New York, as it's going to across this country," Markey said.

The House Republican 2012 budget, authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, passed the House last month without a single Democratic vote and included a proposal to overhaul Medicare. Under the plan, the government would no longer directly pay medical costs for those 55 and younger, but instead would offer subsidies for seniors to use to get private health insurance coverage. A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll indicated that 49 percent of Americans prefer President Obama's approach on Medicare, with four in ten favoring the GOP proposals on Medicare.

Republicans disagree that the race is close because of Medicare.

Paul Lindsay, spokesman for the House Republicans' campaign arm, said the race is close because of the impact of Davis, the third-party candidate.

"This race is close because Republican Jane Corwin is running against two Democrats, one of whom is deceiving voters by claiming to be a Tea Party candidate," Lindsay said.

There's a similar message from FreedomWorks. The independent conservative grassroots group, which has organized many of the larger tea party movement events over the past two years, is launching a campaign to expose "Jack Davis's record as a big government liberal."

Thursday FreedomWorks officially endorsed Corwin.

Republicans aren't the only ones putting up ads in the district. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced a $250,000 TV ad buy Wednesday, according to a Democratic source. And an independent Democratic leaning group is weighing its options.

Ryan Rudominer, spokesman for House Majority PAC, a new independent Democratic leaning group, says the organization "is keeping extremely close tabs on this race."


Filed under: Congress • Health care • Medicare • New York
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. A Real American

    Only because the media has made it one.

    May 12, 2011 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Of course, it is that and more. Anyone who thinks diffferently is out of touch. This goes way beyond "voters remorse". The American public feels deeply betrayed by the deception displayed by the GOTP with what I have been referring to as the Sucker Punch, which most people refer to as the 2010 Elections.

    If voters were merely remorse, then they would wait for the next election cycle. We so money recall efforts here and there, which is indicative that voters are way beyond remorse. They are hitting back and retuning blows after the Sucker Punch.

    May 12, 2011 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    We have so many recall efforts here and there, which is indicative that voters are way beyond remorse. They are hitting back and retuning blows after the Sucker Punch.

    May 12, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  4. American

    Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare is a disastrous scheme to give the uber rich more unnecessary tax cuts off the backs of our seniors. Shame on any politician who voted for or supports this nonsense!

    I agree with Kathleen Hochul's position to step outside her own party to take a stand on raising the limit for taxes to $500K, which most Americans (Republicans, Democrats & Independents alike) support to restore more fiscal sanity.

    May 12, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  5. unretired05

    Maybe Corwin should have Paul Ryan come and campaign for her,

    May 12, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  6. Jon in Rochester

    I've been sick of the mud slinging commercials for the past two months. Most evertying in Jane Corwin's ads are lies. She makes it sound like Kathy Hochul personally raised taxes. Kathy Hochul was the person responsible for collecting the taxes, she didn't personally raise taxes. Jane Corwin presents herself as such a great business woman. That talking phonebook that she touts was just a waste of trees. I recycled mine as soon as it was delivered. I'd like to know really how many jobs that venture created.

    May 12, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  7. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    The article reads: "Jack Davis, a conservative Democrat, has backed out of the debate, and says both Corwin and Hochul are lying about his record."
    And (in my brain) he adds "and since I have no proof they are lying nor any logical defense against the facts they are going to present, I'm going to stay out of the debate."

    TEA Party DDEMOCRAT? sounds desperate AND stupid.

    May 12, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  8. ConservaFASCISTS

    Corwin can't run away from the fact that she said she will vote for the Ryan budget if she were in Congress. She should have kept her comment to herself or she wouldn't be in this predicament. Thank you Paul Ryan for putting forth this radical agenda that has republicans running for the hills.

    May 12, 2011 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  9. Monk

    The whole Obamacare fiasco needs to be repealed. Then the few good parts need to be combined with other real changes to create real reform. Obamacare has already made my insurance premiums increase and I'm retired military using that healthcare. I can't imagine how much it will increase for those that use their company's healthcare. I guess that goes along with his 95% of Americans won't see a tax increase. That is a laugh. When some of the recent changes went into effect and I got a 2.5% pay raise from my company, the net result is my pay is $80 per month less than it was 3 months ago. I cannot believe how blind and deaf the liberals were that elected Obama. Hopefully enough have awakened that it won't happen again. I just hope their is another viable candidate. I would hate to be foreced to vote for Obama as the lesser of two evils. I already did that once, voting for Clinton for his second term even though I considered him an embarrassment to this country.

    May 12, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  10. Rudy NYC

    Paul Lindsay, spokesman for the House Republicans' campaign arm, said the race is close because of the impact of Davis, the third-party candidate.
    "This race is close because Republican Jane Corwin is running against two Democrats, one of whom is deceiving voters by claiming to be a Tea Party candidate," Lindsay said.
    --------------------------
    Read that again carefully and ask yourself if the logic makes any sense. It doesn't. Why should one R have a hard time running against 2 Ds in a district that is traditionally Republican? Shouldn't the Democratic vote get split between the two Ds, leaving the lone R running away in a landslide? I would think so. And the second D is sponsored by the Tea Party. Explain that?

    May 12, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    The fact is that this an overwhelmingly GOP district, but at the same time people here are not impressed with ideologues: the folks here demands results. This is the area that gave this country Barber Conable, Frank Horton, and also supplied Barry Goldwater with his running mate. This race speaks volumes as to how weak the national and state GOP are now in a historically solid area. Chris Lee won this area by a 3-1 margin less than a year ago, and the race to replace him is this close? Davis' strength is due to dissatisfation with the GOP, as well as the fact Hopchul is running a smart race. There are a lot of seniors who worked for Kodak and Xerox who saw their healthcare taken away by the companies that promised them it would always be there, and now the GOP has talked about throwing the rest of the safety net away. Its going to kill them in swing districts through out the Northeast and Midwest. Throw in Davis's hatred of free trade agreements as well, and this could slip out of their hands.

    May 12, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  12. Dot

    "And the second D is sponsored by the Tea Party. Explain that?"

    A Democrat in Republican clothing perhaps? I mean the Repubs are running scared because they're starting to see that the majority of Americans are becoming wise to their less taxes for the rich – less safety net for the poor and elderly agenda . . . so now they're going to start pretending to be Democrats to get votes?? I dunno . . . my best guess since it defies any real logic, Rudy.

    May 12, 2011 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  13. Dot

    A Real American: Only because the media has made it one.

    I live in Wisconsin. I would invite you to come to some of our very spirited town hall meetings so you can see that it's actually "REAL Americans" and NOT the media driving this!

    May 12, 2011 11:21 am at 11:21 am |