Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette
Voting has started in Western New York House District 26 to replace Craig’s list Republican Christopher Lee. The strongly Republican district is expected to flip to Democratic blue because of the Republican melt down over Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget bill which wold end Medicare and decimate Medicaid. So far the Democratic candidate, Kathy Hochul, has a comfortable lead in the polls over Republican choice Jane Corwin and the 78 year old perennial candidate, Jack Davis, who is running on the Tea Party line. All eyes are on this race since it is likely to be the template for coming elections in the national debate over the Ryan budget despite House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s protests that this is not a referendum on that bill.
Democrats should not get too comfortable and I’m sure they’re not, this can always go the other way. Politico will be watching five factors in this race tonight:
The Davis effect
There’s probably no more critical factor in the race than Jack Davis, the Democrat-turned-tea-party-candidate who’s spent nearly $3 million of his own funds casting himself as an independent-minded outsider who will save the Buffalo area’s blue-collar workers from losing their jobs to China.
Erie County Democrats
Simply put, Hochul needs to rack up a big margin in her home base of Erie County, the district’s population center and the portion of the district in which Democrats have performed most strongly in recent congressional races.
Corwin is looking to make up for her expected Erie County deficit with a large turnout in the district’s more GOP-friendly rural counties, such as Wyoming and Livingston, which in previous years provided sizable margins for former GOP Reps. Chris Lee and Tom Reynolds.
The senior set
There’s little question that Democrats have succeeded in focusing the race on the future of Medicare – an issue that’s critical in the minds of senior voters who heavily populate the district and are among those most likely to vote in a special election.
The expectations game
Just as important as any tactical factors will be who finishes ahead in what has emerged as a vigorous spin war. With the race emerging as a preview of the 2012 campaign and the first political litmus test for the Republican budget push, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
The polls close at 9 PM. I will be phone banking for Kathy Hochul for most of the day. I’ll up date later as the results come in. Best of luck to Kathy.