Democrat Kathy Hochul wins House seat in New York special election
May 24th, 2011
10:19 PM ET
12 years ago

Democrat Kathy Hochul wins House seat in New York special election

(CNN) - Democrat Kathy Hochul swept to victory Tuesday night in a closely watched Congressional election in New York state, which turned into a proxy battle on a House Republican proposal on Medicare.

The race in New York's 26th Congressional district was to fill the seat of former Republican Congressman Chris Lee, who resigned over pictures and e-mails of him trying to find a date on Craigslist.

The seat had been considered safe for Republicans, who had held the district for more than four decades.

Democrats claimed the victory "had far reaching consequences around the country" over Medicare, while a top Republican warned trying to "predict the future based on the results of this unusual race is naive and risky."

With nearly 90 percent of precincts reporting, Hochul has 48 percent of the vote, Republican Jane Corwin 42 percent, self-proclaimed Tea Party candidate Jack Davis nine percent, and Green Party candidate Ian Murphy one percent.

The crowd chanted "Medicare, Medicare" during Hochul's victory speech in Buffalo, after the issue became the center of the once-little talked about race.

Hochul and Corwin attacked each other over it, with both campaigns, parties and outside groups flooding the airwaves with television commercials. Many of the ads spotlighted the political battle over House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's plan to drastically cut federal spending by reforming Medicare.

Hochul told supporters in her speech voters "looked beyond party labels ... for a message they believed in."

The Eric County clerk vowed to help balance the budget "the right way, not on backs of our seniors."

During the campaign, she highlighted the national fight, telling CNN before the election, "Corwin has 100% embraced the Paul Ryan budget. Even when Republicans in Washington walk away from it, she's been asked again and again, and she continues to support it."

Corwin called Hochul's message "scare tactics," and had argued, "she's trying to put out the idea that I'm trying to end Medicare. There's nothing further from the truth, I'm working to protect Medicare.

Minutes after the results were announced, both parties sought to paint far different implications of the race.

Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said, "Tonight's result has far-reaching consequences beyond New York."

Schultz said "it demonstrates that Republicans and Independent voters, along with Democrats, will reject extreme policies like ending Medicare that even Newt Gingrich called radical."

She said that she hopes the GOP will listen to voters.

"With this election in the rear-view mirror, it is my hope that Republicans will accept the message being sent by voters in this race, in the polls and at town hall meetings across the country and work with Democrats to get our fiscal house in order while protecting Medicare and other initiatives vital to our economic recovery," she said.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel said, "We served notice to the Republicans that we will fight them anywhere in America when it comes to defending and strengthening Medicare."

But National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions said the race does not have national implications.

"Obviously, each side would rather win a special election than lose," he said. "But to predict the future based on the results of this unusual race is naive and risky. History shows one important fact: the results of competitive special elections from Hawaii to New York are poor indicators of broader trends or future general election outcomes. If special elections were an early warning system, they sure failed to alert the Democrats of the political tsunami that flooded their ranks in 2010."

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus argued the presence of a third party candidate was a factor in the race.

"Corwin ran a strong campaign in spite of facing a Democrat and a Democrat posed as a Tea Party candidate, both of whom sought to distract from the central issues in the minds of voters: restoring our economy and creating jobs," he said in a statement. "If we have learned anything from these results, it is that Democrats will stop at nothing to preserve the status quo in Washington, which is propelling our country towards bankruptcy."

Looking to the race for the seat next fall, Priebus said, "there is no question Kathy Hochul will have a tough time holding onto this seat in 2012 with Barack Obama and his failed economic leadership weighing heavily on the minds of western New York voters when they return to the polls."

Both parties have brought in some of their big guns to stump for their party's candidates.

House Speaker John Boehner and Cantor made recent trips to the district to campaign for Corwin.

For the Democrats, Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, one of the Senate Democratic leaders, went to the district recently to campaign for Hochul, as did the state's other Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Kate Bolduan and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report

Filed under: House of Representatives • New York • NY-26
soundoff (192 Responses)
  1. jimatmadison

    Regular American people – 1

    Paul Ryan Kill Medicare Plan – 0

    2012 elections will be interesting

    May 24, 2011 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  2. midgick

    This election will be a very very clear message to our country as to what the majority of us want or does not want . If the Dems win this then the GOPs and especially the Tea Party people better realize that what they are trying to sell to us is pure BS. It has been 40 yrs. I think that the GOP has controlled this particular voting area.
    The Ultra Conservative GOPer's scare the crap out of me as do any ultra extreme religous group does.

    May 24, 2011 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  3. Bill


    May 24, 2011 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  4. Luke

    This win for Kathy Hochul is a message for Paul Ryan, Republicans, and Tea Baggers across the country. Don't mess with medicare, stop moving the country backwards, and quit pretending you love america when all you do is push legislation that denies people their basic rights as citizens of this great country!

    May 24, 2011 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  5. Mark

    That just show you that they are ignoring the will of the people... and what republicans would look like in 2012...

    May 24, 2011 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  6. johnny b

    Wow. Very conservative district for this to happen in.

    May 24, 2011 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  7. Bud

    Thanks to Mr. Ryan and his plan to scrap Medicare and replace it with vouchers. And the Ryan/Voucher plan is going to help Obama waltz into a second term as President too.

    May 24, 2011 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  8. Rick

    How sweet it is!!!

    May 24, 2011 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  9. Mikey

    To GOPers – Did you really think that Americans wanted to:
    Turn medicare into a voucher system where the purchasing power of the vouchers declines significantly over time
    Fund a 30% decrease in the top tax rate for the richest 1% of Americans with reductions in medicare and other needed services
    Take away bargaining rights from unions
    Scapegoat teachers, firefighters, police officers and othe public employees
    Bust public employees unions
    Make middle class public employees pay for the problems caused by Wall Street investment firms and banks
    Have state governors and legislators ignore legal processes to push legislation through and disenfranchise local citizens

    May 24, 2011 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  10. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    Do you hear the middle class now reublicans?

    May 24, 2011 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |

    Concerning the 26th House District election in New York, "Let it be said, Let it be written."

    May 24, 2011 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  12. Roscoe

    What would Trump say?

    May 24, 2011 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  13. Tom Clay

    Yes We Can...!

    May 24, 2011 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  14. 1rooster

    Congratulations, Democrat Kathy Hochul won!!!!

    May 24, 2011 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  15. addon

    To all the TPers and GOP fleas we need to shake from the halls of our government...

    Ruut Roww Shaggy :0( You guys are so screwed...I can't think of a better America hating party it could happen to. Let's throw in for good measure, Chrysler repays the loan 6 years early....I say to the Re-Puglican haters, NEVER BET AGAINST AMERICAN WORKERS. HA HA. Come on you people, join the rest of the country in pulling ourselves out of the mess your party and the "Decider" put us into.

    May 24, 2011 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  16. midgick

    One more thought. This Country of ours of over 300 million people is so diverse politically & ethnically that thank God no one group controls our destiny. There are too many checks and balances written into our laws that guarentee that no one particular party or ethnic group be it Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddist, etc. can control us like the Arab/African/European/Asian Countries.
    They don't get it and they never will. JUST REMEMBER THAT WE ARE A REPUBLIC NOT A DEMOCRACY. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE AND IF YOU DON"T KNOW WHAT IT IS THEN I SUGGEST YOU GO ONLINE AND DISCOVER THE DIFFERENCE. Maybe that will help some of you to understand what makes our Country work and what doesn't.

    May 24, 2011 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  17. BeverlyNC

    Guess the Republicans might care about the PEOPLE more now than the oil companies. When we say don't kill Medicare we mean it.
    Beware Republicans – this is just a preview of all the losses to come for you in 2012!!!!

    May 24, 2011 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  18. StormeeATL

    A microcosm of what is going to happen in 2012 when the REAL revolution happens as more people wake up to the scope of the frauds they put in to power in 2010, enjoy your brief majority repukes

    May 24, 2011 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  19. Hugo

    Extremists on both sides appear to still not get it. The moderates outnumber them. (Just look at a bell curve.)

    May 24, 2011 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  20. demogal

    Hooray! A victory for good sense and the best interest of the American people.

    May 24, 2011 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  21. R.G. Frano, A-EMT-4-P, (Ret.)

    How purely Droll!
    A week ago, I'd NEVER even heard of NY's 26th. district.
    Thern it was reported as being subject to a special election and MORE 'republican' then Tehran is 'islamic'!
    Now, a district that was (allegedly) 'designed', to be democrat-proof is...
    Now, DON'T misunderstand Me: I consider the alleged difference(s) between the republican & democrat halves of the ruling party harder to spot then leg hairs on a cockroach, w/o a microscope.
    That said, the other thing I've been hearing all week is how the 26th. may foreshadow 2012; If it does...
    Then the failed culture warriors are in more trouble that I want to jinx by tellin' 'em!

    May 24, 2011 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  22. vic , nashville ,tn

    yes we can no medicare cut

    May 24, 2011 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  23. Angela Birch

    Good! High time we quit paying welfare to the oil companies and make sure 90 year olds in nursing homes get decent care.

    May 24, 2011 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  24. victor J

    The writing is on the wall, this is just the beginning for the slaughter that will occur in nov 2012. The republicans were given a chance and elected on the platform of jobs and less government and have since not put forth any jobs bills and have made government more of a part of our lives with laws aimed at planned parenthood and the gay community. These hypocrites are going to go down in a big way.

    May 24, 2011 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  25. whitmanguy

    A "projection" can't "show" the result, just guess at it. But this is auspicious. Even a close loss for the Dems would be a marvelous and hopeful sign of sanity from American voters.

    May 24, 2011 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
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