Traditionally red district goes blue in NY State

And not just any blue – pro-choice, woman-represented blue!

Democratic candidate Kathy Hochul won a special election in New York’s 26th District yesterday. Until recently, the district was represented by a “family values” Republican by the name of Chris Lee. But then this happened, and Lee resigned, resulting in a special election to fill the seat. The district has been a Republican stronghold for years, but no more.

So what made the difference for Hochul? Was it her backing from EMILYs List? That helped, I’m sure, but the prevailing wisdom seems to be that it was Republican candidate Jane Corwin’s embrace of the GOP Ryan budget plan – and Hochul’s repudiation of it – that swung what should have been a cakewalk of a race for Corwin.

Ryan’s budget plan (you know, the brave, serious, courageous one), would privatize Medicare, changing it from a guaranteed social entitlement and requiring seniors to go shop for health insurance on the private market. Hochul’s victory is being seen as a rejection of the plan, and a sign of how important entitlements are considered to be, even for fiscally conservative voters who are concerned about the budget. As Ezra Klein put it last night, “it’s almost as if seniors like their single-payer health-care system.”

Hochul won 47% of the vote and Corwin 43%, even with a good deal of outside money – from Karl Rove’s PAC American Crossroads, for example – pouring in for Corwin in the final days of the campaign. Congratulations to Kathy Hochul and to the voters of New York’s 26th Congressional District!

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