In western New York, a Medicare proxy war and tea-party squabbles shake up a special House election:
Republican Jane Corwin, a state legislator, faces stiff competition from Democrat Kathy Hochul, the Erie County clerk. Jack Davis, a 78-year-old former Democrat, is running on the “Tea Party” line. Ian Murphy, a satirical blogger, has the Green-party nod.
In other words, it’s a mess. Davis, a wealthy industrialist and fiery former Marine, is a perennial congressional candidate. Yet after stumbling in past bids, he has suddenly mounted a strong third-party challenge. His protectionist views and anti-establishment rhetoric have connected with a slice of the electorate, much of which has struggled through the recession.
Corwin also finds herself in the middle of a proxy war between national Republicans and Democrats over Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget. Corwin backs Ryan’s effort; Hochul has tethered her hopes to demonizing Ryan’s Medicare reforms, which she claims would harm seniors.
Democrats, sensing disarray in a deep-red district, would love to pick up the seat, mere weeks after Ryan and his House GOP colleagues promoted the budget at town-hall meetings. Republicans, fearful of that spin, are performing triage, sending organizers and volunteers to Corwin headquarters.