House races

House races

Third Party candidate in NY-26 labels video dirty trick

The campaign of congressional candidate Jack Davis is calling a video that appears to show him striking a campaign volunteer a deliberate "attempt at intimidation" on the part of a staffer for Republican Jane Corwin. 

The Erie County GOP released the video Wednesday night, which appears to show Davis striking a GOP volunteer. The 15-second video shows Davis being asked about his decision to withdraw from a debate with his two major party opponents, Corwin and Democrat Kathy Hochul.

Davis is running under the Tea Party banner in the three-way special-election contest to fill the seat of ex-Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.). The race has risen to national prominence over the past week as both the DCCC and NRCC have poured in significant resources. Republicans fear Davis could act as spoiler and help Hochul to victory later this month.

Curtis Ellis, a spokesman for Davis, downplayed the video, telling the Daily News, "This is the 'Blair Witch Project' of tracker videos. You see the camera shaking. He screams like an eight-year-old girl — which is how old Jane Corwin was when she claims to have been a 'successful businesswoman' — and that's it. They seem to make it like some Oscar-nominated production." 

The video, which also appears to show a Davis staffer getting physical with the cameraman, was initially forwarded to reporters by the county Republican Party. The National Republican Congressional Committee forwarded it to reporters shortly afterward.

The chairman of New York's Erie County Republican Committee told a Buffalo radio station Thursday that the cameraman was a member of Corwin's staff, but wouldn't identify him.

Asked about the video by a local TV station Thursday, Corwin claimed she hasn't seen it, saying, "I haven't seen any video, so honestly, I have no idea."

As for whether the cameraman is a Corwin staffer, the candidate said, "I don't know any of that. I went to sleep last night pretty early, so I'd have to check all of that out before I can comment on it."


GOP matches Dem investment in NY special

The National Republican Congressional Committee has matched its Democratic counterpart in its initial ad buy in western New York's special election.

A GOP operative told The Ballot Box the NRCC's Independent Expenditure arm has reserved just more than $260,000 worth of airtime in Buffalo and Rochester. The committee's ad will start airing Monday, primarily on broadcast television, but it will also be seen on Fox cable.

The operative noted this was an "initial" buy and could be augmented depending on the situation.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee placed a $250,000 media buy in the 26th district earlier this week, according to a party operative. 

A GOP strategist told The Ballot Box the DCCC's buy, which is also primarily on broadcast television, is split between Buffalo and Rochester. The ad will start airing Friday and run through Election Day on May 24.


Tea Party group mobilizing against Davis in NY special election

The Tea Party group FreedomWorks is mobilizing its grassroots network in New York's 26th congressional district to "defend the Tea Party brand" against third party candidate Jack Davis, who the group is labeling "a fraud."

FreedomWorks, led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R), is the latest national group to get involved in the May 24 special election with polls showing a tight three way contest between Democrat Kathy Hochul, Republican Jane Corwin and Davis.    

In what was expected to be a relatively easy win for the GOP, the latest numbers in the race to fill the seat of ex-Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) give Hochul a four-point edge with 35 percent of the vote to Corwin's 31 percent.

Davis, who is running on the "Tea Party" ballot line, is polling a strong third with 24 percent of the vote. 

"We basically feel that we need to defend the Tea Party brand," said Brendan Steinhauser, the group's director of federal and state campaigns, who called Davis "a fraud." 


W.Va. Rep. Capito gets a primary challenge

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a potential challenger to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) next year, has drawn a Republican primary opponent ahead of 2012. 

Republican Delegate Jonathan Miller, the youngest member of the West Virginia state legislature, announced a bid against the six-term congresswoman Tuesday.

In an interview with the Martinsburg Journal, the 26-year-old Miller said, "God is calling me to run for this office now." 


Third party candidate gets backing in NY special

A former congressional candidate popular with Tea Party activists has endorsed Independent Jack Davis in New York's 26th district special election race.

David Bellavia, an Iraq war veteran who sought the Republican and Conservative Party's nods earlier this year, called Davis "a decorated war hero and a true patriot."

His endorsement could cause trouble for Republican Jane Corwin. The GOP has sought to portray Davis as the second Democrat in the race. Bellavia's backing could help enhance his conservative credentials.

“Veterans in Western New York and voters of all stripes have one clear choice for Congress, and that is Jack Davis, a true independent who will work for the people as he caucuses with the Republicans in the House of Representatives," Bellavia said in a statement released by Davis's campaign.

The Weekly Standard notes that Bellavia slammed Davis for "playing politics with the troops" in a 2006 campaign ad. Davis was running as a Democrat against former Rep. Tom Reynolds (R) that year.


Sens. Gillibrand, Schumer making final push in NY special election

New York Sen. Charles Schumer will be in the Buffalo area Sunday to campaign for Kathy Hochul as the special election race enters its final stage, according to the Democrat's campaign.

Schumer will be the first high-profile Democrat to stump in the 26th district for Hochul, who is a surprise contender in the race for former Rep. Chris Lee's (R) open seat.

A poll released this week showed Hochul with a four-point lead over Republican Jane Corwin and an 11-point lead over Independent candidate Jack Davis.

Aware of the symbolic power of a victory in the conservative-leaning district, New York Democrats have rallied to help Hochul in recent weeks.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has issued fundraising pleas on Hochul's behalf -- raising more than $12,000 for her in two days through an email pitch, according to a campaign spokesman.

Gillibrand will travel to the district in the final week before the special election to make a get-out-the-vote push for Hochul. The upstate former congresswoman also issued a fundraising plea through the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Tuesday.


Crossroads makes six-figure buy to support Republican in NY special election

The conservative group American Crossroads took out a major, six-figure ad buy to push Republican Jane Corwin across the finish line in the special election in New York's 26th congressional district.

American Crossroads said it had purchased $350,000 worth of media in the Buffalo and Rochester market ahead of next Tuesday, May 24's special election to fill former Rep. Chris Lee's (R-N.Y.) seat.

Corwin is locked in a tight, three-way race between Democrat Kathy Hochul and Jack Davis, a former Democrat-turned-Tea Party member.

Democrats with a close eye on the race say the ad buy is closer to $640,000.

“This race has become artificially competitive because liberal Democrat Jack Davis is now trying to pass himself off as a conservative while the other liberal Democrat, Katie Hochul, is benefiting from his trick,” said American Crossroads communications director Jonathan Collegio. “This ad buy seeks to expose the Democrat trick for what it is.”

Republicans are hoping to avoid the fiasco that plagued them in 2009, when Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava, who eventually withdrew, split votes with Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman in a special election to fill a GOP seat. Democrat bill Owens eventually won in that race, and retains the seat in Congress.

Polls have shown the race is tight, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was in the district on Monday to help stump for Corwin.

House Majority PAC, one of the Democratic groups that operates similarly to Crossroads, called the ad buy a sign of panic.

"John Boehner, Karl Rove, and the Right are clearly in full panic mode in what should have been a slam dunk for them in the special election in upstate New York. House Republicans’ reckless budget that guts Medicare and protects $40 billion in giveaways to Big Oil has put this heavily Republican seat in play," said Ryan Rudominer, a spokesman for the PAC.


Boehner met with Flight 3407 families during upstate swing

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) met with family members of the victims of Continental Flight 3407 during his campaign swing through upstate New York on Monday.

The appearance, made at the behest of special-election candidate Jane Corwin (R), was likely meant to repair the rift between the Families of Continental Flight 3407 and the GOP leadership.

The group, which represents the victims of the February 2009 crash of a flight from Newark, N.J., to Buffalo, N.Y., adamantly opposed an amendment championed by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) that passed the House in April. The families of those on the downed commuter flight said it curbed the federal government's ability to impose aviation safety regulations.

After it passed, Corwin sharply criticized House Republicans. She called the measure "an affront to the Families of Flight 3407's hard-fought efforts for aviation safety reforms" and said she wouldn't have joined the 215 Republicans who voted for it.

Corwin's campaign released photos of the meeting with Boehner, but billed it as a private event.

Boehner also spoke at a fundraiser for Corwin that brought in $150,000 for her campaign. "They want something done about jobs, and they want something done about spending," he told the crowd. "We should remind them what America said last November by electing Jane Corwin."

Polls are showing a tight race with two weeks to go before the vote.