Congressional candidate Kathy Hochul accepts a pair of boxing gloves from Max Richtman of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, Monday, May 9, 2011.
Congressional candidate Kathy Hochul accepts a pair of boxing gloves from Max Richtman of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, Monday, May 9, 2011. David Duprey/AP
The special election to fill New York's vacant 26th Congressional District is being widely viewed as the latest test of Republican and Democratic political fortunes.
The Western New York State district, has been reliably Republican. Until earlier this year it was represented by Republican Chris Lee who got 74 percent of the vote last November. Lee famously resigned after Gawker revealed that the married lawmaker responded to a listing on Craigslist by sending a beefcake photo of himself to a woman.
House Speaker John Boehner and Jane Corwin at an upstate New York fundraiser, May 9, 2011.
House Speaker John Boehner and Jane Corwin at an upstate New York fundraiser, May 9, 2011. David Duprey/AP
Now the seat doesn't look so reliably red. A recent Public Policy Polling survey showed Democrat Kathy Hochul leading Republican Jane Corwin 35 percent to 31 percent.
Getting blamed for this, at least publicly by Democrats, is the Medicare piece of the budget plan of Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican House Budget Committee chair.
His proposal, which would have private insurers essentially take over Medicare, has taken what should have been a cakewalk and made it competitive. If that could happen in New York's 26th, it could happen elsewhere, the thinking goes.
If Democrats were to pick up this seat on May 24 it would be: one) a major embarrassment for Republicans and two) a significant moral victory for Democrats.
Republicans are determined to keep that from happening.
So the GOP is pumping significant money into the race. American Crossroads which was formed by Karl Rove, who needs no introduction, says it is spending $350,000 on television ads this week. The Washington Post and Politico report that Republicans intend to spend $650,000 on ads by the time of the election next week.
In another attempt to turn things around for Corwin, a state assemblywoman, House Speaker John Boehner on Monday visited the district which lies between Rochester in the east and Buffalo to the west.