I know there are plenty of folks who are still exhausted from the battle of 2010, and others who are eagerly looking forward to next year. But before we get too carried away, it’s worth reminding everyone that we still haven’t finished filling all of the seats in the House of Representatives. There’s an empty one out here in upstate New York for the 26th district and the election is coming up in a few weeks. In case you’ve forgotten, it was formerly held by Congressman Chris Lee, who about now is probably wishing he’d spent a bit more time playing Farmville on Facebook rather than hanging out on Craigslist sans shirt.
So how are things shaping up? Well, as we’ve become far too accustomed to seeing in Upstate New York congressional races… it’s a mess.
The Siena College poll released Friday shows 36 percent of likely voters supporting Corwin and 31 percent favoring Hochul. With the May 24 special election about a month away, Tea Party candidate Jack Davis received 23 percent and Green Party candidate Ian Murphy trailed with 5 percent.
Siena’s Steven Greenberg says that in a district with a seven-point edge for Republicans, Corwin’s support lags behind Republican enrollment
The 26th is a GOP leaning district which I’ve seen rated at anywhere from R+4 to R+7. Jane Corwin (campaign website) is the Republican nominee, but as I pointed out the last time I updated you on this race, she didn’t get there because of a primary victory. Thanks to New York’s oddball election laws, she was designated by the county Republican chairs for this special race.
This brewed up some contentious struggles on both sides. The Democrat, Kathy Hochul, is having votes siphoned off by Scott Walker prank caller Ian Murphy, but Corwin is losing some of her support to Jack Davis, backed by the Western New York Tea Party Coalition. That choice confused many observers out here, since Davis had previously run for office on the Democratic line in 2006 and 2008 and has historical ties to the Working Families Party. (This is a group which frequently finds New York Democrats to not be quite liberal enough for them…)
But if the race looks messy at first glance, Sam Foster at The Lonely Conservative points out that, well… it’s even more of mess when you look more closely.
The first and perhaps, one of the only polls, we’ll see on NY-26 is out and it looks like a close race. TPM wants it to mean that NY-26 is in play:
In a potential replay of the 2009 NY-23 special election that saw a third-party candidacy turn a red-leaning district blue, a Tea Party candidate is threatening to hand Democrats an upset in the race to replace resigned Republican Rep. Chris Lee in NY-26.
But, just to give you an idea how lost their analysis is:
In a parallel to the NY-23 race, the Republican candidate’s more moderate positions — Corwin is pro-choice — have left an opening for attacks from her right.
Both Corwin’s opponent’s Jack Davis and Kathy Hochul are far larger pro-choicers, thus pro-choice is not really an issue in the race.
But he goes on to point out that the Republican candidate may be safer than a quick glance at the numbers makes it appear.
First of all, Kathy Hochul is running a campaign strictly as a referendum on the Paul Ryan budget. The problem is that the Republican plan is creaming the Obama plan. According to the poll, 53-36 people want to see the next NY-26 candidate support the Republican plan. This includes a 55-31 split for Republicans amongst Independents.
Second of all, it would appear that Jack Davis isn’t only bilking Jane Corwin on votes, but he’s doing lot’s of damage to Democrat Kathy Hochul; particularly in the area of Independents. Green Party Ian Murphy is also stealing from Hochul. Republicans over Democrats, slightly favor Davis more by about 4%. A pretty small margin even though Davis is taking 23% of the vote.
Finally, Hochul’s biggest problem is in the undecided category. Only 5% of Democrats are undecided to 11% Republicans and 9% independents. At the end of the day, it might be a closer race between Jack Davis and Jane Corwin.
If you plan on getting involved in this race you’ve got a little time left to do so. But given the stampede of other stories in the national press and the almost total lack of coverage the race is receiving thus far, I’m not expecting this one to be standing room only.