How Hochul Won

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 25 2011 10:42 AM

How Hochul Won

My final wrap on NY-26 is right here , and in it I attempt to explain how two elections occurred there. One was the referendum on Medicare -- there's really no spinning away the fact that voters panicked over losing it. Two was a particularly exciting intra-Republican spat, which produced a wealthy GOP candidate that some in the party tried to undercut.

If the election was a mess, most of the splatter was on the Republican side. It started after Rep. Chris Lee was caught sending e-mails of his disturbingly taut torso to a woman who didn't happen to be his wife. It was up to the state and district's Republican leadership to pick a candidate; their choices included Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, Iraq war hero David Bellavia, and Republican-turned-Democrat-turned Republican Jack Davis. Bellavia had been gunning for the seat for years. Both Corwin and Davis were independently wealthy. Corwin was a more loyal partisan. (You'd have to work hard not to be more loyal than Davis.) So Corwin got the nomination. Davis promptly set up a "Tea Party" ballot line and started running again.

"If they'd chosen Bellavia, Davis said he would not run," said Michael Caputo, a Republican strategist in New York who managed Carl Paladino's gaffe-a-minute 2010 campaign for governor. (Paladino lost statewide but won the district by 22 points.) "By opting for Corwin, they chose the three-way."

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David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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