Political Animal


May 06, 2011 2:20 PM The DCCC owes Paul Ryan a thank-you note

By Steve Benen

THE DCCC OWES PAUL RYAN A THANK-YOU NOTE…. When Rep. Chris Lee (R) resigned in disgrace in February, few expected his seat to change party hands. His Buffalo-area district has been represented by Republicans for a long while, and national Democrats didn’t expect the special election to replace Lee to be competitive at all.

In March, the New York GOP rallied behind Jane Corwin, a well-liked state assemblywoman, and the race in the 26th congressional district appeared to be largely over.

And then a Siena College poll was published, showing Corwin’s lead at just five points over Democrat Kathy Hochul. What happened?

Part of the competitiveness is the result of Jack Davis, an odd millionaire, running as an independent and splitting the right. And the other part is Paul Ryan’s House Republican budget plan.

After leveling a barrage of attacks against the proposal put forth by Mr. Ryan, the Democratic candidate, Kathy Hochul, has tightened the race considerably, even as her Republican opponent remained supportive of the plan, perhaps out of concern that distancing herself from it would alienate conservatives.

The shifting dynamics of the race, which have emboldened top Democrats and their allies, underscore the intense reaction to Mr. Ryan’s proposal, the centerpiece of a budget that House Republicans voted to approve in April to address the nation’s long-term financial problems. […]

“The Republican vote to end Medicare has moved the needle in this race,” said Representative Steve Israel of Long Island, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “The Republican should be running away with this. Instead, she is clinging to a minuscule lead.”

At this point, the best the Republican campaign can come up with is the charge that Democrats “are trying to scare seniors.” But that’s awfully weak — it’s not demagoguery if it’s true, and if accurate descriptions of the GOP plan end up scaring people, that’s certainly not Democrats’ fault.

Marsha Sherris, 61, a real estate broker in the district, seems to epitomize the challenge for Ms. Corwin. A registered Republican, Ms. Sherris said that she was troubled about the Republican Medicare proposal and that it might ultimately influence her vote in the special election.

“Maybe I would go Democrat,” Ms. Sherris said on Main Street in Williamsville. “We have to worry about the seniors. They are the ones who supported this country all this time.”

The special election is in about three weeks, and Republicans are scrambling to salvage a win. Given their efforts and the district’s traditional leanings, the GOP might very well hang on. Time will tell.

But the larger point is how nervous this should make the rest of the Republican Party — especially those vulnerable GOP House members who are worried about re-election in 2012. There are 60 House Republicans who represent districts President Obama won in 2008, and 59 of them voted for Ryan’s budget plan and all that it entails.

If Corwin is struggling in a GOP stronghold, how optimistic are they about following their leadership off the right—wing cliff?

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • T2 on May 06, 2011 2:39 PM:

    The problems presented here by Mr. Benen have been, I'm sure, noticed by GOP leadership - hence the abrupt dropping of Ryan's plans and the Repeal HealthCare drive. They are hoping that by taking quick action now, the public will forget about the Republican Plan to Eliminate Medicare by the time the next elections arrive. They may be right, they may be wrong (if the Dems can play it right). But the have bigger/more problems.....everything they want to do in the House will be extremely unpopular once the public finds out and even more important---their "bills" will still only be symbolic since the Dem Senate will kill them or Obama will veto.
    In short, if they have any chance of retaining a majority in the House, they should put the TeaParty out to pasture right now. That is an interesting decision Boner and the GOP hierarchy will need to make. Soon. In fact, it may have been made.

  • bobbo on May 06, 2011 2:57 PM:

    Of course, if Corwin ends up winning by a hair, we will hear all over the rightwingosphere that this is a bellwether pointing to Republican landslide in 2012.

  • David in NY on May 06, 2011 3:06 PM:

    Good News for the GOP!!!

  • Bill on May 06, 2011 3:09 PM:

  • SaintZak on May 06, 2011 3:10 PM:

    Ms. Sherris said on Main Street in Williamsville. "We have to worry about the seniors. They are the ones who supported this country all this time."

    Medicare and Medicade need to be protected and preserved, no two ways about it....but to be honest, I'm really sick of "the seniors." They need to get over themselves. We all pay our taxes, we all contribute.

  • Winkandanod on May 06, 2011 3:28 PM:

    When the BPublicans produced a "budget" without any numbers in it, they should have been laughed into oblivion. Instead, they picked up seats in the house riding Ryan's coat tails.

  • jeri on May 06, 2011 3:29 PM:

    Well said. After all, what have "the seniors" ever done for you?

  • SaintZak on May 06, 2011 3:32 PM:

    Well said. After all, what have "the seniors" ever done for you?"

    As much as I've done for them

  • Lucia on May 06, 2011 3:53 PM:

    To quote Steve (and a lot of other people) back at Steve, in politics a week is a long time. How many times in the last 5 years have progressives crowed that the GOP has made a big mistake that will make their candidates vulnerable in swing districts, and how many times have they performed their usual sleight of hand while the Dems gave in without firing a shot?

    Can Dems really make hay of this one? I'm not counting my chickens.

    As for "the seniors," I used to think they were awfully whiny too, and then, I don't know how it happened, I turned 40.

  • pbg on May 06, 2011 4:01 PM:

    Umm...Zak...mebbe someone was trying to suggest...they created you?

  • max on May 06, 2011 4:06 PM:

    When is the Senate vote on the Paul Ryan's Kill medicare Plan? Let's get some of these true believers from the lunatic right on the public record for 2012.

  • exlibra on May 06, 2011 4:28 PM:

    ...and will that sudden change in the balance of that particular race change the "wise" DCCC minds and push them into supporting Hochul? Or will they just giggle, send a "thank you" note to Ryan as you suggest, pat themselves on the back for a job well done, don the laurel wreaths and watch Corwin squeak through into a win?

    The main reason I have stopped supporting (financially) *all* the official Dem organisations (DCCC, DSCC, DNC) is that they often act as if they were brain dead. They support dead beats but don't support the up-and-coming new blood, unless it's someone that had been anointed by them, and who looks like having 105% chance. I stick with Act Blue and, occasionally, with MoveOn and feel I'm much better served. The "evah so clevah" DC insiders can jump on the sharp edge of my bony Polack ass.

  • gocart mozart on May 06, 2011 6:51 PM:

    Then there is this www.JaneCorewin.org

  • gocart mozart on May 06, 2011 6:53 PM:

    The funniest thing on the internet today.

  • mfw13 on May 06, 2011 9:55 PM:

    The problem is that if the Dems are going to act responsibly, eventually they will also have to make a proposal that cuts benefits for seniors (although not in the way the Ryan plan does).

    If all they do is demagouge the hell out of the issue for political advantage, as both parties have done for the past umpteen years, nothing will ever done as the deficit will continue to worsen.

  • jefft452 on May 06, 2011 11:26 PM:

    no worries, I'm sure that they will "find" extra Corwin votes on a laptop the day after the election

  • nycweboy on May 07, 2011 8:49 AM:

    Benen's taking his cues basically from the Times, which is fine, as far as it goes, but it's indicative of how this story has been ignored for months that this is a story from the "National" department and not the "New York" (i.e. NY state reporters) department of the NYT. Savvy political New Yorkers could have told you, months ago, that this election was by no means a slam dunk, that the NY state GOP is in complete tatters (Dede Scozzafava, anyone? Ring a bell?) and this race was bound to competitive. That Hochul has managed the fairly obvious task of tying Corwin to the Ryan Medicare plans is neither surprising nor is the fact that it's working all that remarkable either. Upstate New York, traditionally considered a GOP stronghold because it mimics rust belt state demographics in states to the west, is really far more fluid and vulnerable to efective Deocratic campaigns. That's why NY-23 worked out so well, and why it's likely that this race will flip the seat as well. That some national Democrats were caught flat footed is probably a good indication that,as usual, the national parties are not nimble enough to know how to take advantage of opportunities. But it's just as indicative of the failure of the GOP to notice that the vulnerability Ryan created. I'm more struck, overall, by the fact that the Times was incredibly slow to notice this story in its own back yard.

  • AdeleONEILL27 on July 02, 2011 9:16 AM:

    Various people in the world get the home loans from different banks, just because that's easy and fast.