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Jack Davis promises to be a force in western New York’s looming special election, and his sights are already focused on GOP nominee and presumed frontrunner Jane Corwin.
Davis, a former Democratic Congressional candidate, has captured the “Tea Party” ballot line in the May 24 contest to succeed former Rep. Chris Lee (R) in the Republican-leaning 26th district. The independently wealthy businessman qualified by submitting more than 12,000 signatures to state officials Monday — he only needed 3,500 — after he failed to capture the GOP nomination over Corwin, a former businesswoman who now serves in the state Assembly.
Davis’ spokesman reiterated plans Tuesday to spend as much as $3 million in the coming nine weeks.
“Jack is absolutely committed at this point to spending up to $3 million in this campaign. We have put together a budget, which adheres to that,” spokesman Curtis Ellis told Roll Call on Tuesday. “He will spend what is necessary to get his message out and be competitive in all media. You can expect full-spectrum warfare.”
And although he was reluctant to share specific campaign strategy, Ellis said Davis would target presumed frontrunner Corwin, particularly on issues related to free trade and outsourcing.
“We need to know where she stands on this. She’s talking in vague generalities,” he said. “We’re going to go after her.”
Iraq War veteran David Bellavia, another Republican who failed to earn the nomination, hopes to qualify for the ballot as well. He submitted more than 3,500 signatures Monday, although Corwin is expected to challenge some of them.
Democrats’ best chance in this conservative district is a split Republican electorate, and Davis’ place on the ballot keeps that possibility alive. It’s worth noting, however, that Corwin has captured the Conservative and Independence ballot lines, in addition to the Republican line.
Meanwhile, Corwin released her second television ad Tuesday, a 30-second spot that attacks Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul, the newly tapped Democratic nominee.
The ad states that Hochul voted to raise property taxes in 11 town budgets. It also borrows from the 2010 playbook by linking Hochul to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“Now she’s running for Congress as Nancy Pelosi’s handpicked candidate,” the narrator says. “Kathy Hochul and Nancy Pelosi, now that’s a team with a history of raising our taxes.”
Davis won’t focus exclusively on Corwin, according to Ellis, who added that Hochul will be forced to explain her trade policies as well. But in this district, which leans strongly Republican and is the home of tea party gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, there’s little doubt that Corwin is the person to beat.
“Everybody says she’s the frontrunner. She’s the Martha Coakley in this race. ‘Nothing to see here folks, we’re going to win,’” Ellis said, referring to the Democrat who was presumed to succeed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) last year — then was routed in the special election by Republican Scott Brown.
“It worked out really well for Coakley,” Ellis said.