Democratic staffers and operatives are streaming into western New York ahead of Tuesday's special election for ex-Rep. Chris Lee’s seat.
Democrat Kathy Hochul used Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget plan to go on the offensive against Republican Jane Corwin in the final debate before New York's special House election next week.
The House Budget Committee chairman's controversial proposal would turn Medicare into a type of voucher system. Presented as a serious attempt to fix the program’s projected shortfalls, the proposal instead appears to have turned the political tide back toward the congressional Democrats, who were on the ropes after last November’s midterms.
During the debate in Rochester, which aired nationally on C-SPAN, Corwin and Hochul repeated clashed over the changes Ryan's plan would bring to Medicare.
"The plan that I'm supporting is not a voucher system," Corwin insisted.
But Hochul said his plan would, in fact, reform Medicare into a voucher program, and said voters were concerned about losing benefits. "This is very much a concern of the people I'm talking to," the Democrat said. "They do not want the government to end a program as we know it, the Medicare program. ... I will fight any plan that tries to decimate Medicare."
Both candidates have aired TV ads in recent weeks accusing the other of wanting to cut Medicare benefits.
On Wednesday, the candidates also talked about the federal budget and the debt ceiling, healthcare and reforming Social Security. And perhaps with an eye to appealing to the supporters of Independent Jack Davis, who refused to attend the debates, both candidates talked about their willingness to break with their respective parties.
Corwin talked about her two years in the state Assembly, where she said she's worked with Democrats. "I am a very independent thinker," she said.
Hochul also talked about how she worked with Republicans and had broken with her own party. "I have no problem at all standing up to my own party when I disagree with them," she said. "All you need to do is ask [former Democratic Govs.] Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson if I'm willing to do that."
She added later: "I'm not partisan."
This was the final meeting of the candidates before the May 24 vote, for which both parties have wagered heavily on the outcome. Democrats have invested time and money in the race despite the district's tendency to favor the GOP and are test-driving an anti-Ryan budget message that will likely be used again if Hochul wins.
Meanwhile, Republicans are hoping to break a three-year slump in special election races, and prove their landslide victory in last November's midterms wasn't a fluke.
--Julian Pecquet and Bob Cusack contributed to this report.
New York Republican Jane Corwin continues to receive help from the national GOP. Florida Rep. Allen West became the latest member to help boost her campaign to succeed former Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.).
West, a well-known Tea Party figure and former Army officer, recorded a robocall for Corwin that suggested voters not consider backing Independent Jack Davis, who is running on the Tea Party line in the May 24 vote.
West says in the robocall: "This is Lieutenant Colonel and Congressman Allen West with a critical Tea Party alert. Jane Corwin is the only endorsed Tea Party candidate and the only candidate who will stand up to Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and their out-of-control spending agenda."
The call went out to 30,000 homes in the 26th district, according to Corwin's camp.
A N.Y. GOP official suggested Pete King for president, and King told The Hill he's not totally rejecting the idea.
Independent House candidate Jack Davis released a TV spot Wednesday hitting "both parties" on trade.
Davis, a mostly self-funding candidate running on the Tea Party line, has remained third in polls of New York's 26th district special election, but shows no signs of dropping out. He's competing with Democrat Kathy Hochul and Republican Jane Corwin to win the May 24 vote.
"Both parties support trade deals that ship our jobs overseas," the announcer says in the new ad, which features a dramatic kitchen-table scene between a family of four. "Jack Davis will fight to keep jobs in America."
Craig Huey edged past Democrat Debra Bowen and appears headed to a runoff with Democrat Janice Hahn in California's 36th.
Missouri Republican Ann Wagner quickly formalized her 2012 campaign for Congress Tuesday in the wake of Rep. Todd Akin's (R-Mo.) decision to make a bid for Senate.
Late last month, Wagner launched an exploratory committee ahead of a likely run for the 2nd district seat, citing "the likely event" that Akin would opt for a 2012 Senate bid.
"I have been traveling the district and listening to the people in our district about the strong, effective, conservative leadership we need in the Congress," Wagner said in a statement posted on her website Tuesday. "The encouragement and enthusiasm I've received to run for Congress has been overwhelming."
Republican Ed Martin is already in the open-seat race for Akin's 2nd congressional district seat. Earlier this month, Martin pulled out of the 2012 Senate race against McCaskill in favor of another House run. Last fall, Martin nearly defeated Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) in the state's 3rd congressional district.
As expected, Akin entered the Senate race Tuesday, setting up a potentially bruising campaign for the Republican nomination to face first-term Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).
The six-term St. Louis-area Republican joins a field that includes former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R).
House Majority PAC on Tuesday released the TV ad it's running against Republican Jane Corwin in New York's 26th district.
The buy is in the "low six figure[s]," according to the Democratic-aligned group.
The ad accuses Corwin of supporting a budget plan that would "essentially end Medicare," a charge that has flown back and forth between the Republican, Democrat Kathy Hochul and Independent Jack Davis during the special-election race.
The Tea Party Express went on the attack Monday against third-party candidate Jack Davis in the special election for ex-Rep. Chris Lee's (R-N.Y.) House seat.
Leaders of the group were in Rochester to endorse Republican Jane Corwin in a tight three-way race against Democrat Kathy Hochul and Davis, who's running under the "Tea Party" banner.
At a morning event in the district, Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer labeled Davis "a phony."
"Jack Davis is no more 'Tea Party' than Barack Obama," Kremer said, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
National Republicans and conservative activists have their sights set on Davis in the days before the May 24 election, worried he could siphon off enough votes from Corwin to propel Hochul to victory.
The Tea Party Express, which played a major role in several GOP Senate primaries last cycle, has not announced any plans for a paid media effort in the district, but the group has another news conference planned for Monday afternoon featuring Carl Paladino, the GOP's controversial 2010 nominee for New York governor.
Famed Democratic strategist James Carville issued a fundraising plea for New York House candidate Kathy Hochul (D) Monday.
Hochul is locked in a tight three-way campaign with Republican Jane Corwin and independent Jack Davis in the race for former Rep. Chris Lee's (R-N.Y.) seat.
"Remember that Republican congressman who high-tailed it out of Washington after the shirtless photos he sent to women on Craigslist got splashed all over the Internet? Well, the special election for his seat is just 8 days away," Carville wrote on behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
He asked for contributions of $3 to help the party raise $75,000.
"I’m telling you," Carville wrote, "the more folks in Western New York hear about the Republicans' support for that ludicrous budget to end Medicare, the more voters are flocking to support Kathy."
Candidates have traded charges over who wants cuts to Medicare.