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The special election, called in the wake of Lee’s abrupt resignation in February, was never supposed to be this close.
Corwin, an independently wealthy state lawmaker, was long considered the frontrunner in what is among the most conservative districts in the state. Democrats, in fact, were initially reluctant to help Hochul for fear of raising expectations and wasting resources on a seat that was considered a long shot at best.
But Republicans in Washington quietly sensed danger weeks ago. And by early May, the NRCC and conservative groups such as American Crossroads began pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the district to rescue a foundering Corwin campaign.
Crossroads alone dumped $700,000 into the effort to supplement Corwin’s personal investment of nearly $3 million.
Hochul’s victory will be celebrated by Democrats, who believe the Medicare issue will play prominently in campaigns across the country over the next 18 months.
“We served notice to the Republicans that we will fight them anywhere in America when it comes to defending and strengthening Medicare,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) said in a statement Tuesday night. “Even in one of the most Republican districts, seniors and independent voters rejected the Republican plan to end Medicare. The American people will continue to hold House Republicans accountable for their plan to end Medicare from now until election day 2012.”
Less than an hour after the Associated Press called the race, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi seized on the Democratic victory to help raise money.
“This is our third straight special election victory in New York — and it is truly one for the ages,” the California Democrat and former Speaker wrote in an email for the DCCC. “All of the Republicans’ right-wing outside groups with their secret money and dishonest attacks were no match for the combined strength of grassroots Democrats.”
At the bottom of the message, supporters were offered a link to a donation page.
But in western New York, the win will likely be short-lived, and Republicans are quick to say that Democrats are simply renting the seat.
There is little chance that Hochul would win a traditional two-way race next year in the conservative region, and it’s likely that the 26th district seat will disappear in 2012 as a result of redistricting anyway. New York is set to lose two Congressional seats because of population losses, and Hochul is an easy target for state lawmakers.
The results of Tuesday’s election won’t be formally certified by the state Board of Elections for days. Corwin sought and obtained a court order barring certification pending a hearing before a judge.
However, Corwin conceded the race Tuesday night, the Buffalo News reported. “I told [Hochul] I would be happy to help in any way I can to help western New York,” she said.
Davis also conceded. “I didn’t get the message out this time,” he said, the Buffalo News reported. “I’ll keep shouting it. I love America.”