Green Room

Confusion Returns in NY-26 Special Election

posted at 11:21 am on March 17, 2011 by

Before the news cycle effectively exploded this year, plenty of pol watchers had more than a bit of fun with New York 26 Congressman Chris Lee’s sudden departure stage Left following his shirtless cameo on Craigslist. The less reported result of this story is that we’ve got a special election coming up to fill the seat. Of course, this is New York State, still festooned with ancient and frequently confusing election laws, so don’t expect this to be much of a quick and clean story.

Since we don’t have primary elections here for special elections, the county chairs of the various parties are selecting their candidates. And we’ve already got some complaints from a sub-set of the tea party groups complaining about the Republican selection, as well as third party candidates jumping into the fray. (Anyone getting a headache yet, with flashbacks to NY-23? Don’t worry… it’s actually not that bad.)

This is another traditionally solid district for the GOP and the Republican chairs got their ducks in a row more quickly than anyone else, putting up businesswoman and state assembly member Jane Corwin. And unlike the debacle in the 23rd district, Corwin has already secured the support of the New York Conservative Party. (Corwin recently came out with her first TV spot of the campaign, should you care to check it out.)

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t drama rearing its head. There are two separate Tea Party factions in the area who seem to be pulling in different directions. First we have TEA New York, who may be leaning toward endorsing Ms. Corwin, but are apparently still taking a look at David Bellavia who had been lobbying for the Conservative Party line. (Some conservatives are apparently still upset over the fact that Corwin previously answered a candidate questionnaire saying she could support 1st trimester abortions, putting some tea party members off their feed. But this is still New York, after all.)

A second faction, the Western New York Tea Party Coalition, is supposedly backing perennial candidate Jack Davis. It seems an odd choice, since he ran for the same seat as a Democrat in 2006 and 2008, with ties to New York’s Working Families Party. (A group known for being suspicious of NY Democrats’ liberal bona fides.)

Things aren’t all sweetness and light for the Democrats in this race, though. They haven’t even officially settled on a candidate yet, with barely two months until the election, and it now looks like Scott Walker prank caller Ian Murphy may be getting the Green Party line to run for the seat, a move sure to siphon off votes from the Democrat if it happens.

In case you’re wondering, New York election law allows any party getting 50,000 votes in a governor’s election to have an automatic spot on the ballot for every election for the next four years. The Greens managed that in 2010 so they can field whatever candidates they wish until 2015.

In the end, assuming the larger Tea Party group decides to stick with the Conservative Party and back Corwin, she should have a viable path to victory, returning the seat to the Republicans. But again… this is New York. Don’t bet on anything until the winner is sworn in. And even then, keep your eyes open for Craigslist entries and tickle fetish forums.

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