New York GOP Candidate Watches Lead Evaporate After Defending Ryan’s Plan To End Medicare

The embarrassing manner of “Craiglist Congressman” Christopher Lee’s (R-NY) downfall failed to shake the GOP’s confidence in holding onto New York’s 26th congressional district. The overwhelmingly Republican district, which hasn’t been represented by a Democrat since early last decade, led the New York GOP to count “well-liked” state assemblywoman Jane Corwin as a “shoo-in” for the seat. Then, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) dropped a bomb — his budget plan. The plan that essentially eliminates Medicare and forces seniors to pay thousands more for health care is now driving a stake through Corwin’s lead.

With numerous polls noting a majority of Americans oppose cuts to Medicare, democratic opponent Kathy Hoschul has started putting Corwin on the defensive over the contentious plan that is already fracturing House Republicans. Instead of listening to the public, Corwin is “vigorously” defending Ryan’s plan and watching her lead evaporate because of it. The New York Times reports:

But even as some House Republicans have started to express doubts about the wisdom of trying to push the Ryan plan this year, Ms. Corwin has vigorously defended it, arguing it places Medicare on sound financial footing. “This protects the Medicare program and ensures that there are benefits for future generations,” she said during a recent stop last month in Rochester, according to The Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester.

Still, Ms. Hochul’s message seems to strike a chord in the district, where the race has become much closer than experts in either party had expected. A recent Siena College poll of likely voters, for example, indicated that Ms. Corwin and Ms. Hochul are in a tight race. Ms. Corwin leads by only five points, within the poll’s margin of error.

The Seina College poll was taken a week ago. A new internal poll from Hochul’s campaign shows the race is now a dead heat. In a Global Strategy Group survey, Corwin only leads by one point. “The Republican vote to end Medicare has moved the needle in this race,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), chairman of the DCCC.

Corwin’s camp insists that the need to rein in the national debt at the expense of Medicare “will ultimately win the day.” “They are trying to scare seniors,” her spokesman said. But Marsha Sherris, a senior and registered Republican living in the 26th district, isn’t buying it. Troubled by Ryan’s proposal, Sherris said, “We have to worry about the seniors. They are the ones who supported this country all this time.” Standing — incidentally — on Main Street in Williamsville, NY, she said, “Maybe I would go Democrat.”

The special election will be held on May 24.