There were plenty of winners and losers from the Democrats’ stunning victory in upstate New York on Tuesday.
Democrat Kathy Hochul’s relatively easy win over Republican Jane Corwin and Democrat-turned-Tea Party candidate Jack Davis is being called a referendum on Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget plan.
Here’s The Hill’s list of winners and losers:
Rep. Steve Israel. Hochul’s win was especially sweet for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman from New York. He played his cards close to the vest, holding back financial support until the race was ripe. Israel has repeatedly said winning back the House in 2012 is possible, and that prediction doesn’t seem as far-fetched as it did several months ago.
Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.). The No. 3 Senate Democrat, like other Democrats on Capitol Hill, misread the political winds earlier this year by not calling for cuts in stopgap budget bills. But he immediately sank his teeth into the Ryan plan, sensing it could be key to the Democrats regaining their political momentum. Schumer, who campaigned for Hochul, once again shows why he is the political king of New York.
President Obama. The president, who wisely didn’t endorse Hochul in the red district, oddly didn’t mention Medicare in his statement on Hochul’s win. Regardless, Obama’s political comeback continues after the trouncing he suffered last November. Hochul’s victory gives the president leverage in the debt-ceiling discussions.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The House minority leader has taken some major hits in recent months, but she shifted her focus from jobs to Medicare at the right time. While the odds are against Pelosi ever becoming Speaker again, Hochul’s triumph boosts her political standing.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The minority leader raised a few eyebrows when he indicated he would not urge his colleagues to vote for the Ryan plan when it comes to the Senate floor. That move looks quite shrewd in the wake of Corwin’s loss. McConnell has his eyes on becoming majority leader, and he has deftly distanced the Senate GOP from Ryan’s blueprint.
Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.). The Ways and Means Committee chairman has let it be known privately and publicly he is not a fan of Ryan’s Medicare reforms, even though he voted for them. Camp’s words will now carry more weight in the GOP conference.
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.). Timing is everything in politics, and Brown’s public opposition to Ryan’s measure earlier this week will help him in what is likely to be a tough reelection race in 2012. Coming out against it after Tuesday’s special election would have been seen as political posturing. Democrats claim that Brown flip-flopped, noting he had previously said he would support Ryan's measure.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The House Budget Committee chairman knew he was leading with his chin, and Tuesday’s result represents a solid blow to his political stock. Ryan clearly has a bright future, but his Medicare plan could be a major handicap if and when he runs for higher office. The chatter of Ryan serving as the GOP’s vice presidential candidate will now subside.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). For better or worse, Boehner endorsed Ryan’s plan. The decision to vote on a politically explosive measure that had no chance in the Senate will undoubtedly be second-guessed.
American Crossroads. The conservative 527 invested heavily to save the GOP seat, and lost. The GOP champion of last year did have an interesting spin on the loss by calling it “a wake-up call for anyone who thinks that 2012 will be just like 2010.” One thing is for sure: American Crossroads will be a force in the 2012 elections.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). Like Brown, Snowe will vote no on the Ryan legislation. Unlike Brown, Snowe is most vulnerable in the GOP primary and her opposition will be used as political ammunition.
Reince Priebus. The new Republican National Committee chairman told The Hill earlier this month he was confident the New York seat would stay in the GOP’s hands. His role in New York was minimal, but politics is a game of wins and losses, and it’s on his record.
Newt Gingrich. The former Speaker bashed the Ryan plan, then quickly backtracked. Prominent conservatives say his handling of the thorny issue has killed any hopes he had of winning the Republican presidential nomination.
Other GOP presidential candidates. Democrats will be mentioning Ryan’s proposal ad nauseam for the next 18 months. White House hopefuls would be well-advised to have their answers ready.
-- This story was updated at 8:55 a.m.