BUFFALO, N.Y. –- Today's tight race in New York's 26th Congressional District has become a referendum on the Republican plan to transform Medicare.
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The western New York district is among the most conservative in the state.
Nevertheless, the latest poll shows Democrat Kathy Hochul with a slight lead over Republican Jane Corwin in the race to succeed Republican Chris Lee. Lee resigned in February after shirtless photos surfaced that he'd sent to a woman on Craigslist.
Corwin was the early favorite but has seen her lead shrink after expressing support for a proposal to recast the government's health plan for seniors as a voucher program.
Siena Poll Director Steve Greenberg says voters cite jobs, Medicare and the deficit as top issues.
The poll shows Tea Party candidate Jack Davis a distant third.
Davis' candidacy has further complicated matters for Republicans in a district that has many Tea Party supporters. Local GOP leaders tried to make hay of an eyebrow-raising encounter between Davis and a videographer Davis appeared to shove after the videographer taunted him for refusing to appear in a debate with Hochul and Corwin. The GOP tried to use the video to paint Davis as a bully.
But it backfired when the videographer turned out to be Corwin's chief of staff.
Jonathan Chait at The New Republic writes:
The race has centered almost entirely around the exact theme that Democrats plan to employ in the next election cycle. All this suggests the party has gotten deep traction on the issue, and that the public can react against the policies of the House GOP. The political landscape that produced the Republican sweep of 2010 is gone. Just what replaces it remains to be seen.
The race has drawn attention and more than $2 million from both national parties and several independent groups. Both Ryan and New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie have endorsed Corwin, while former President Bill Clinton recorded a phone call for Hochul and New York's popular Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo released an ad supporting her.
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