NY-26 gets ugly
May 13th, 2011
11:39 AM ET
11 years ago

NY-26 gets ugly

(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.

Filed under: Congress • New York
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    candidate Jack Davis, a conservative Democrat who aligns himself with the Tea Party
    HUH??? First, there is NO such thing as a conservative Democrat. Who is he or this writer trying to deceive? Secondly, a Democrat embracing the Tea Party??? REALLY??? Is this the ultimate deceitful candidate or what?!!

    “You wanna get punched out?” -- Very nice. He must be a union rep as well.

    May 13, 2011 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  2. Voice of Reason

    This just shows what small-minded people get wrapped up in politics. On one side you have the Tea-partier (would that be a "DINO"?) who shows a complete lack of self control (but i repeat myself), on the other you have the GOP candidate who wont even own up to her own 'gotcha' hatchet-job ("...It has nothing to do with me quite frankly." – Yeah, right. And i have a bridge to sell), but then proceeds to greedily throw her opponent under the bus.

    Where's your honor?

    Cant we get some people with a bit of backbone to run for office? Cant we get people that we actually WANT to look up to?

    May 13, 2011 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  3. Voice of Reason

    Maybe NY-26 would be better off going back to the guy posting shirtless photos of himself in the internet.

    May 13, 2011 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. John/kc

    Corwin is one who voted to end Medicare and Medicaid. Frankly, we cannot support people that want to balance the budget on the backs of seniors many being elderly that cannot work. Quit the wars 12,000 miles away and close many overseas bases in foreign countries to bring down the deficit. We can no longer afford to defend the world. Let us defend America at home.

    May 13, 2011 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  5. The Real Tom Paine

    Nice operation the GOP has going here. The chief of staff of a candidate for Congress is now goading and videotaping his opponant. This shows an even bigger lack of class that what Chris Lee demonstrated. What is even worse is that Corwin does not apologise and discipline her staffer, but only give the lame explanation of that ' its not my video" and ' Jack Davis did not behave very well". I live in the district, and this shows a complete lack of self-control from Davis and an utter lack of control from Corwin. Corwin's so-called business experience is an even bigger joke: working for the " Talking Phone Book" does not give you any understanding of business, and its worthless. I pitch the free copy they leave every year.

    What a joke the GOP is in NY. When I look back at class acts like Barber Conable, Frank Horton, and even Jack Kemp, I am appalled at the lack of talent the GOP has recently produced: Bill Paxon, Tom Reynolds, Chris Lee, and now Corwin: all filled with ambition inversely related to their actual talent. Paxon, Reynolds and Lee did not produce one significant piece of legislation during their Congressional careers, and now they want to push someone who sold the Talking phone book for a living and who can't acknowlege a failure by her staffer and won't discipline him?

    Is this the best the best the GOP has to offer?

    May 13, 2011 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  6. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    but then proceeds to greedily throw her opponent under the bus.
    "greedily throw"??? Looks like he willingly jumped in front of it!! And why would she attempt to defend his juvenile behavior?

    May 13, 2011 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  7. clarke

    why must we always label people. Just because we may belong to one political group or another, doesn't mean we all think alike or act alike or vote alike. A few bad apples doesn't spoil the entire bushel.

    May 13, 2011 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. j

    Certainly it was goaded. --Shame. Intelligent people won`t fall for this "stunt".

    May 13, 2011 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  9. ericf

    Shouldn't we have learned by now that when someone releases just the snippets of video, they're deceiving their audience? What happened before this clip? The simple fact we don't know, and the cameraman's boss pretends it has nothing to do her and won't call for the full release, should be a huge tipoff that this is a lie. Maybe the willingness of the GOP to do this to a tea partier just like they do to Democrats should say something to the tea parties about what Republicans really think of them.

    May 13, 2011 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Davis retorts, “You wanna get punched out?” and takes a swat. After visible camera movement and grunts from the cameraman, Davis chuckles
    (Sigh!) I miss NYC where things ARE what they ARE!!!! lol

    May 13, 2011 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  11. Al-NY,NY

    Infighting between candidates desperate to be "conservative" and take their constituents for fools....love it

    May 13, 2011 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  12. shoegazer

    Thug....plain and simple.

    May 13, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  13. Stu Steinberg

    I watched the video and regardless of political affiliation, what Mr. Davis did was commit an assault and he should be charged. Whether the person with the camera was working for his opponent, or not, is beside the point. People have a right to ask someone a question and film it. If they don't like what's happening, they can walk away. What if it had been a reporter? Would this be any more justifiable? It seems to me that Mr. Davis lacks the character and temperament to be a member of Congress.

    May 13, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  14. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    The chief of staff of a candidate for Congress is now goading and videotaping his opponant.
    Goading??? They asked a very simple question of a candidate for office. That is "goading"? A mature responsible adult would have answered it or simply said "No comment" and continued to walk on bye. Instead this guy chose to threaten and and attempt to intimidate the person asking a legitimate question. Democrat Jack Davis obviously lacks the temperment, class and intelligence to be in Congress.

    May 13, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. M

    CNN needs to do some fact checking before they pick up stories and run with them. This is why our country is in the state it is – people don't actually look any deeper than what they're told by the mainstream media. This was, in fact, goaded. The gentleman who got "smacked," and from everything I have heard is working for the Republican party, physically blocked Davis from getting to his car for a good solid 15 minutes until he got what he wanted; this shot that is now being widely distrbuted. A second Republican employee was standing off to the side videotaping the young man behind the camera and his interaction with Davis – I don't know why she was there, presumably archival purposes. But this is roughly 14 seconds of the entire 15 minute confrontation.

    And before anyone accuses me of being a Davis supporter, I'm just someone who lives in this Congressional area and heard the full story this morning on my drive in, from a widely and well known conservative talk show host (he does an opinion piece at 8:00 every morning), who said the Republicans involved ought to be ashamed of themselves and he is disgusted with their behaviour.

    May 13, 2011 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  16. David S.

    He was definitely goaded into this. Why else would Mallia refuse to release the tape in its entirety?

    It's almost like watching Faux News!

    May 13, 2011 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  17. C. Howe Yulikit

    I feel sorry for the residents of NY26. One GOP rep trolls Craig's List for erotic encounters, the replacement is a lackey who toes the line to end Medicare (and 'loans' her campaign $960,000? Betting she's casting herself as understanding the middle class, right?) and the "Tea party" candidate is nuttier than both put together. Hochul should win in a walk.

    May 13, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  18. K.C

    This whole silly thing was a set up. The camera man was a staff member of Jane Corwin. His response is soooo overdone and fake.. Don't fall for this.

    May 13, 2011 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  19. Bruce

    If you watch the video, the 15-seconds that the staffer "allows" us to see, you see what is obviously a man joking around giving a half-hearted baby-slap to a *camera* (he hit the camera, not the staffer, that was obvious even in the edited video) that caused no damage to the camera, no bodily harm or even pain to the staffer, and then he walks away smiling and laughing.

    If this is what constitutes an "assault" these days... wow, nice that CNN prints the GOP spin-machine talking points now. Did Rupert Murdoch purchase CNN while I wasn't looking?

    May 13, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. Dave T

    I guess considering NY recently had Tea party candidate Carl Paladino run for governer as a thug and threaten and shove reporters with "I'll take you out", when a consevative reporter asked him a perfectly legitimate question about accusations that he made. It has become acceptable for candiates to behave badly and act like thugs. A sad sign of the times. If you walked in to a job interview and acted like that, you wouldn't get hired, voters should demand our political leaders treat people with the same respect.

    May 13, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  21. ART

    Tea bagger gone wild.

    May 13, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  22. The Other Dale

    Rand Paul had one of his goons step on a woman's head and it didn't stop him from being elected. Tea Partiers have been numerous times shown abusing people who disagree with them, why should this hurt Davis when anger, violence and lies are all Tea Partiers know anyway?

    May 13, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  23. Republican Robber Baron

    Yeah this whole thing is fishy. First of all Jack Davis isn't even a legit candidate. Secondly the Republican camapaign has its own agenda. Davis can steal votes away from the Republicans...especially if he gets official backing of the local Tea Party klan. Who knew that a "real" Democrat can be tied with the "real" Republican candidate in this extremely Conservative district.
    Even my ultra-conservative District that outnumbers Dem's 2 to 1 voted for Obama in 2008...seemingly impossible.

    May 13, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  24. realitybites

    Clarke, I have to agree w/ you. From the left, we get tired of the middleshool social tactics of the right. America's biggest problem is that we don't grow up until we're 30 yrs old unlike the generations that proceeded us. So problem is we see more and more of this childish crap clogging the airways, and public discourse in of itself. No room for alduls, that is the answer to The Real Tom Pain had to ask above. Quality GOP is a bygone standard. So to fall into same schoolyard namecalllng they insist on playing, Insist on labling the GOP the Grand Old Potty or Repblicans be referred to as REGRESSIVSES as they insist more and more on dragging us into Grand Old Pary's age of origination(the 19th century). Sadly, they don't represent the Progressive nature of the party of that age, inistead they have taken the up the banner of the Conservative Good Old Boy Democrats of that age that iin the souith imposed a # of illegal state laws directed at keeping the progressives (the Republicans ) from making inroads into weaking their power structure ( ie. Jim Crow ). Don't believe me check google what happened in 1889 in NC and other states at that time and then compare them to what is happening now. Voter ID to keep voter fraud down as a new one that is being thrown around. Out of a population millions in our state. 26 cases were investigated and only a few were actually real. (Disinfrancizement of the poor and minorities). Attacks on labor union on a state level in guise of balancing the budget at the expense of low paid overworked people for a living teaching our kids how to run the world, saving lives, and fighting fires. Some states were threatening that if the president didn't produce is long form BC that they would pass laws requireing that or he would not be able to be on the ballot in the 2012 electiion. Bobby Jindal is a friggin hypocrite born in India and was ready to sign the bill if it came to him.
    Childiish, middleschool tactics and constant behind the scenes wrangling to undermine and corrode the foundation of our country in an attempt to KEEP control over what they are losing out on. It's kinda like wathching what happened in the 60s here or in S, Africa in the 80's. Desparate times call for desparte measures and they are terrified that they are losing battle and so getting sneakier, more belicose, and arrogant as times persists. What brought down McCains campaign is that he tried too hard to play to that craven and threatened crowd who still see this as the old White, Christian, Industrialized nation we once were. Change is not an option, at least not the kind of progesssive change that threatens their way of life.

    May 13, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  25. The Real Tom Paine

    @ Democrat Class Warfare – Destroying the economy, destroying the country:

    Lets be clear about a few things: the current MO amongst conservatives is to tape confrontations or set up sting operations, and this is in the same vein. Personally, I think Davis is a crank who has failed in numerous previous attempts to get into Congress, so he gets no sympathy from me, but I think the manner in which Corwin is controlling ( or not controling) her campaign staff is appalling. This was a "Project Veritas" -type sting, nothing more, but it reveals a lack of self-control from Davis (as I previously stated) and lack of control by Corwin over her staff: who is running her campaign, her or a staffer foisted on her by some 527 group? I live in the district, so I have real concerns, this is not a game to us who live here. A local conservative radio hosts was blasting this behavior this morning, so please refrain from judging me when you know nothing about this area, or the politics here, or what is at stake for residents like me.

    May 13, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
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