Sunday, May 22, 2011

NY-26: Kathy Hochul, The One In Blue, Ahead By A Length In The Final Stretch


Par for the course: No good choices in NY-26

Once the Rapture passed us by, it was time to get back to watching the special election in western New York that's building up to Tuesday-- and with heavy national implications. Most to lose: Paul Ryan, whose plan to destroy Medicare has become the #1 issue of the race. If the GOP can't hold onto this profoundly Republican district panic will set in among dozens of Republican congressmen who were tricked into voting for Ryan's hated, dystopian budget scheme-- "radical... right-wing social engineering," in the words of one Republican elder statesman. The latest polling-- from Siena-- was bad news for the Republicans, who have poured over three million dollars into efforts to hold onto a red, red seat.

Red, red seat? Well, yeah... even though the GOP's lunatic fringe gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino only polled 34% statewide last year, he had a landslide victory in NY-26-- 61% of the vote! And the district votes for Republicans in federal races as well. In 2000 Gore only got 44%. Kerry did a percent worse and Obama, while sweeping the rest of the state-- and the region-- was bested in NY-26 by McCain 52-46%, McCain's best performance in New York. And, Christopher Lee, the perverted millionaire teabagger, whose sex scandal forced him to resign triggering this special election, won with 74% just 6 months ago, the biggest victory for any Republican in New York state. Lee didn't fall below 70% in any of the district's 6 counties, even winning Niagara County-- where then-Democrat Jack Davis beat then-incumbent Tom Reynolds in 2004-- in a startling 25,570- 8,661 victory. The Wall Street Journal reported that Hochul is surging.

And what's different this week is the Ryan budget. Stupidly, Republican Jane Corwin, once favored to win in a walkaway, said she would have voted for it. And it turns Medicare into an inadequate voucher program that voters absolutely hate. Congress' Joint Economic Committee clearly laid out how harmful Ryan's plan would be for New York seniors. By 2022, under the current Medicare out-of-pocket expenses for the typical 65-year-old enrollee in New York would be $6,308.07, already considered high by many. Under Ryan's plan-- the one embraced by Corwin, the out-of-pocket expenses for a typical New York senior doubles to $12,826.26. That's an extra $6,518.20 annually. And what for? So the fabulously wealthy can pay even less taxes than they already do.

Earlier this month we talked about why I'm about as enthusiastic for a Hochul victory Tuesday as I am about my town's sports team winning a game or a tournament. Better the blue team than the red team... I guess. I was relieved that at least Hochul opposes the two corporate parties' NAFTA-like, job-destroying trade policies but I'll never trust any Democrat who seeks office by throwing a Democratic constituency under the bus by adopting Republican Party framing, the way Hochul has done in this campaign. If she wins Tuesday, I expect her to either be a Blue Dog or, more likely, just vote with them, pulling the Democratic caucus further to the right.

Former NY Blue Dog, Kirsten Gillibrand, was in Amherst campaigning with Hochul yesterday and Chuck Schumer is there this morning. Popular Governor Andrew Cuomo released an ad endorsing Hochul. And even the Tea Party candidate, multimillionaire Jack Davis, a lifelong Republican who brags he voted for every Republican president but who captured the Democratic nominations 3 times in the past, says his own polling shows Hochul ahead. (It also shows him in second place, beating Corwin. Watch the clip below.) Momentum is clearly in Hochul's camp, with voters determined to send Boehner and Cantor, each of whom has been to the district to campaign for Corwin, a clear message that they will not abide the Republican Party wrecking Medicare. Obama has been laying low-- either because of his own unpopularity in the district or because he doesn't want to anger Hispanic voters who know Hochul for her anti-immigrant demagoguery.

UPDATE: The Buffalo News Endorses Hochul

Virtually all the big newspapers in the district have come out for Hochul. The Buffalo News is the most influential. And, for an essentially conservative newspaper, they were brutal.
Hochul has a more rounded grasp on the role of government in the 21st century. She understands health care for seniors to be an appropriate federal issue, while Corwin does not. More conservative than even many Republicans in Western New York, Corwin holds a pinched view of Washington's role in public life, restricting it to issues such as defense, transportation and food safety.

In meeting with the Buffalo News editorial board, she didn't specifically say that issues such as health, education and the environment were inappropriate for government, but the implication was clear. She supports the Republican proposal for Medicare, which would turn it into a voucher system. To be sure, Medicare needs to be fixed to preserve it for future beneficiaries, but not this way.

...Both Corwin and Hochul have made an issue of the deficit, but Hochul's skills and record suggest a deeper understanding of the role of government in modern life. Changes need to be made, and soon. Hochul is the candidate with the best ability to push for those changes while guarding against an assault on the role of government itself.

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