Election Night 2011: #NY26 Special Election

24 May

While the Cover it Live Liveblog will be up shortly on the main page, I thought I’d pull together what we’re up to right now.


The WFP just sent this around:


As the polls close in Western New York tonight, we anticipate a close election – so close that the results may not be known overnight. In fact, Republican Jane Corwin’s camp has already filed legal paperwork in anticipation of a drawn out certification process. However, we are confident that Democrat-Working Families candidate Kathy Hochul will prevail once all the votes are counted.

Hochul was up against two self-funding millionaires and at least $650K of Karl Rove’s money in a deep red district. Whatever the outcome, the results tonight would not have been possible in the Republican wave of 2010. That wave is clearly now over, and the Republicans have Paul Ryan and the Tea Party to thank.

Republican Overreach:

Make no mistake – this election was a referendum on the Republicans’ overreach – led by John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Paul Ryan – and their attempts to destroy Medicare as we know it.

Majority Leader Cantor and other Republicans have already begun spinning their side in anticipation of a loss for their candidate – they’re going to say this election came down to a spoiler candidate in a three-way race. It would be wrong to accept this premise. In fact, as Davis’s support bled week-over-week, his voters migrated directly to Kathy Hochul, not to Jane Corwin. Further, his supporters rate Hochul more favorably than Corwin. Most importantly – Davis is also against the Paul Ryan plan to destroy Medicare.

Simply put, a majority of voters in this election have cast their votes for candidates who said they would protect Medicare and oppose Paul Ryan’s budget.

Jane Corwin has tried to distance herself from her party’s views in the final weeks of this election; however, the radical strain of right-wing ideology espoused by Paul Ryan and the current crop of GOP House leaders has proven too heavy an albatross.

A loss for Republicans in a district this red is sure to drain the color from John Boehner’s face; it won’t be easy for him to keep his caucus together as vulnerable Republicans in swing districts begin to walk back their embrace of the Tea Party fringe. Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts has already disavowed the Paul Ryan-Tea Party budget proposal in preparation of a tough re-election ahead of him. He won’t be the last member of his party to do so.

In fact, when Scott Brown was originally elected in January 2010 to replace liberal icon Ted Kennedy, the nascent Tea Party crowed that their moment had arrived. Win or lose, we say that their 15 minutes have now come to an end. Their policies have been soundly rejected.

Role of the Working Parties Party:

Published reports state that Karl Rove’s American Crossroads enterprise spent over $650,000 in the district as of a few weeks ago in order to put Jane Corwin over the top. We suspect that number may have risen in the final days of the campaign.

On May 10, I said this in an appeal to WFP supporters:

“We don’t need to compete dollar for dollar with Rove and his corporate backers. But we do need to get as much manpower as we can into the district. Our person-to-person grassroots campaign can beat Rove’s TV commercials any day.”

Our supporters, along with friends at MoveOn.org, raised us over $130,000 to fund our GOTV work – and we believe it’s made much more of an impact than anything Rove put on TV. Thanks to those contributions, we’ve knocked on tens of thousands of doors, and we’ve spoken to disaffected Democrats, turned-off Republicans, and unaffiliated voters. Those cross-sections of society don’t agree on much – but they do believe in economic fairness and the need to protect Medicare.

Of course, lawn signs don’t win elections, but we think our “Save Medicare, Vote Hochul” signs in public spaces and outside polling places throughout the district didn’t hurt. The message seems to have resonated.

Lessons for 2012:

Republicans have been trying to dismantle Medicare since LBJ enacted it into law. They’ve been trying to end Social Security since FDR enacted it into law. And now, of course, they’re trying to end President Obama’s historic health care reforms.

They are backed in these efforts by their powerful donor base — corporate interests and a few bad-acting ultra-wealthy individuals who have a stake in social inequality.

Tonight’s election shows that we can do two things in order to beat the Republicans and their Big Money backers:

1. Democrats must stay true to their legacy of social progress and their progressive roots. They must not be afraid to rail against attempts at “right-wing social engineering.”

2. We must fund strong campaigns that rely on aggressive grassroots outreach. We might not win every TV war, but we can win in the field when we bring our message to voters’ doorsteps directly.

3 Responses to “Election Night 2011: #NY26 Special Election”

  1. Ray May 24, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    Here’s exclusive video footage from Emily Hunter’s dead-battery cam of Jane Corwin, on beginning her inspection of the NY26 ballots:

    “It’s mine, you understand? Mine! All mine! Get back in there! Down, down, down! Go, go, go! Mine, mine, mine! Mwa-ha-ha-ha!’

  2. Ray May 24, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    Damn malformed urls. No Medicare for you!

  3. Carl May 24, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    Ray: YOU, my friend, deserve the beverage of your choice for unleashing Daffy Duck on an election thread!

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