(CNN) – Well, that didn’t take long. NY-26 has already descended into a physical altercation.
The special election to replace New York Rep. Chris Lee, the married congressman who resigned amid a shirtless photo scandal in April, turned ugly Wednesday night in suburban Rochester.
In a campaign stop confrontation caught on video, a third party candidate can be seen smacking a camera held by the chief of staff for another candidate.
The campaign staffer confronted candidate Jack Davis, a conservative Democrat who aligns himself with the Tea Party, following a campaign stop. He questioned Davis about his decision to drop out of the pre-election debate held Thursday.
In the video released Wednesday night, Mike Mallia, chief of staff for Republican assemblywoman and GOP candidate Jane Corwin, holds the camera and asks Davis why he “backed out of the debate.” Davis retorts, “You wanna get punched out?” and takes a swat. After visible camera movement and grunts from the cameraman, Davis chuckles.
Only 15 seconds of footage was posted on YouTube by the Erie County GOP–just enough to show Davis' anger and hear Mallia's question, but not enough to determine whether the swipe from Davis was goaded.
Corwin refused to demand the release of her staffer's video late Thursday, telling local affiliate WKBW, "It's not my video. It has nothing to do with me quite frankly."
Insisting that "Jack Davis did not behave very well," Corwin asserted it’s a personal decision for her chief of staff as to what’s disclosed further. "It will be up to him to decide because that's his video. It was on his time," she said
Corwin loaned her campaign $960,000 Thursday to support her bid to keep NY-26 red, but Democratic nominee Kathy Hochul outraised all three candidates with $218,000 in donations for the month of April, according to FEC filings due at midnight Friday.
The special election for NY-26 has become a staging ground of national interest with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee dumping $250,000 on an ad buy in an effort to pick up a much-needed seat in the House of Representatives, and the National Republican Congressional Committee making an ad buy of $265,000 to boost support for Corwin in Buffalo and Rochester.
Corwin also received support from American Crossroads, an outside conservative 527 that purchased $350,000 in television commercials for a week-long effort on her behalf.
The special election for New York's 26th district House seat will be held on May 24.