Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thank You, Paul Ryan!

May 24, 2011
Democrat Wins Upstate New York Congressional Race
By THOMAS KAPLAN, New York Times

10:02 p.m. | Updated Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, is the winner in a closely watched Congressional race in upstate New York that is being seen as a test of a Republican plan to overhaul Medicare.


Baxter said...

Democrats take NY special election in blow to GOP’s Medicare push
By Aaron Blake and Paul Kane

Republicans lost a House seat in a Western New York special election on Tuesday, dealing what could be a significant blow to the party’s efforts to reform Medicare.

Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul (D) upset Republican state Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (R) in the special election in the conservative-leaning 26th district after tying Corwin to the controversial GOP budget plan that included a provision to turn Medicare into a voucher program.

Senate Republicans are still wavering about what to do with the proposal, and Corwin’s loss on Tuesday may provide a chilling effect for Republicans who were already hesitant to embrace the entitlement reform, which polls show is unpopular with the general public.

The Medicare plan, spearheaded by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), has already been the subject of plenty of debate as Republicans in Washington seek deep cuts and debt-reduction measures. And many Republicans, including presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, have declined to embrace the proposal.

In New York, the Democrats ran ads early and often on the issue, seeking to overcome a significant registration disadvantage in the Buffalo-area district, which Democrats haven’t held since the 1960s.

In the end, it appeared to have worked, with Hochul winning 48 percent of the vote and Corwin winning 42 percent of the vote with 75 percent of precincts reporting. The Associated Press called the race in Hochul’s favor just more than an hour after polls closed.

“Today, the Republican plan to end Medicare cost Republicans $3.4 million and a seat in Congress,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “And this is only the first seat.”

Even before voters went to the polls Tuesday, Republicans downplayed the significance of Corwin’s performance and particularly the race’s relevance to the debate over Medicare’s future.

“I know this town loves to take signals from individual races. I think the best signal you can take is the 63 seats that we picked up in November,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters Monday.

Cantor and other Democrats cited the presence of third-party candidate Jack Davis in the race. Though Davis previously ran for the seat three times as a Democrat, he ran this time on a ballot line labeled “Tea Party.”

In the end, though, Davis was taking just 8 percent of the vote — slightly outside the margin by which Corwin trailed. That would mean, in order for him to have been the difference-maker, he would have had to be taking votes almost exclusively from Corwin, which seems unlikely given that Davis used to be a Democrat.

Senate Democrats believe that centrist voters in most states reject the Ryan plan to overhaul Medicare by giving its mostly elderly beneficiaries vouchers with which they would then buy insurance on the private markets, and that the conservative support for the Ryan budget will drive a wedge between Senate Republicans and their primary voters.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has scheduled a vote later this week on the Ryan budget. At least four Republicans -- Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) -- have announced their opposition to the bill, with all but the conservative Paul viewing the Medicare proposal as too punitive.

Reid and Democrats hope that those Republicans who support the Ryan plan, which passed the House on April 15 on a party-line vote, will hurt themselves in general elections next year and in 2014. Those Republicans that oppose the Ryan plan may face political fallout in their GOP primaries, Democratic aides said, explaining the party’s strategy anonymously to discuss internal meetings.

Republicans countered that they believe that voters will reward their “bold leadership” on the issue of swelling federal debt and stagnant job growth.

Jim G. said...

Special elections sometimes foreshadow the results of the next general election. But just as often, they end up being completely unrelated to what's to come. Shortly before the 2010 election, for example, Democrats exulted at winning a tough special election in Pennsylvania, only to lose dozens of House seats that year.

Baxter said...

True, except this one feels a lot more like Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts than it does a Democratic win in a historically Democratic house seat.