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Tea Party Fracturing Over New York Special Election

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David Bellavia’s potential campaign for the House has divided New York’s tea party community.

Thompson said she has some concern about Corwin’s positions on abortion, the environment and stem cell research. Corwin told local reporters this week she opposes partial-birth abortions and opposes government funding of abortion, but she has supported legal abortion in the first trimester.

While she concedes that Bellavia has more traditionally conservative positions on abortion, Thompson also sees the danger in a three-way race. The question is whether the Thompsons will make an endorsement in the race. Their silence, of course, could be seen as a tacit approval for Bellavia.

“We’re not thrilled about a third-party run,” Julianne Thompson said. “But Bellavia seems determined to run a third-party line, with or without tea party support.”

Corwin has been accumulating endorsements from other conservatives. The Monroe County Conservative Party gave her its support Thursday evening, and the tea party-backed 2010 gubernatorial candidate, Carl Paladino, who lives in the district, has come out in her favor as well.

“I’m a proud member of the tea party movement in New York, and together we helped change the face of Congress in November,” Paladino said in a statement distributed by the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is painfully aware of the risks associated with a three-way race. “Jane Corwin will be another member in our movement to take our country back.”

And the leader of another New York-based tea party ally, Primary Challenge, also backed Corwin:

“I know that Jane Corwin is the right person to represent New York’s 26th District in Washington and she has my unwavering support,” said the group’s founder, Lenny Roberto. “As the founder of Primary Challenge, the last thing we need is a third-party challenge that could give liberals in Washington another vote to spend taxpayers’ hard-earned money.”

Indeed, Democrats’ best hope for taking the seat is a three-way race that divides the Republican vote.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) has consistently downplayed expectations, noting that Democratic presidential candidates were soundly defeated in the district in both 2004 and 2008.

New York Democrats, however, are in no rush to select a candidate.

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