New York's old people rebel
To the barricades for Medicare
A by-election may be a referendum on the Republicans’ health plans
May 12th 2011 | DEPEW, NEW YORK | from the print edition
NEW YORK is a blue state. Its governor, Andrew Cuomo, is a Democrat, as are its two senators. But chunks of it are very conservative, such as the reliably Republican 26th congressional district in western New York. It spans the suburbs of Buffalo, across hundreds of acres of farmland, to the suburbs of Rochester. Registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats there by around 30,000. George Bush handily won the district in 2004, though he lost the state by 19 points. In 2008 it was one of only four New York districts that voted for John McCain over Barack Obama. Chris Lee, the Republican who had represented the district since 2008, won a whopping 74% of the vote at the 2010 mid-term election. He stepped down in February after a gossip website posted shirtless pictures he had sent to a woman he had met on Craigslist.
The special election (as Americans call a by-election) to fill the Craigslist congressman’s empty seat will take place on May 24th. Jane Corwin, a wealthy conservative member of the state Assembly, should on past form be a shoo-in, but recent polls indicate she has an unexpected battle on her hands. According to one recent poll Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, is just a few points behind Ms Corwin, and another shows her in the lead. Jack Davis, the self-financed independent “tea-party” candidate, is also performing solidly in the polls. At first glance it appears that Mr Davis, a former Republican who also ran (unsuccessfully) for office as a Democrat, may be siphoning support away from Ms Corwin.