Hochul Is Democratic Nominee in N.Y. Special

Posted March 19, 2011 at 5:56pm

Democrats finally have a nominee in the special election to replace Rep. Chris Lee (R).

The county chairmen of western New York’s 26th district on Sunday unanimously selected Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul (D) to run in the May 24 contest. She will face state Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, whom local GOP officials tapped more than a month ago and became the instant frontrunner in the Republican-leaning district.

“I am running for Congress because I can do in Washington what I’ve done in Erie County – cut waste, hold down taxes, and help Western New York businesses create jobs for working families,” Hochul said in a statement.  “I am looking forward to meeting residents throughout the district, and sharing my plan to get people back to work and get our economy back on track.”

Hochul, the wife of western New York U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr., was expected to win the nomination. The field is far from set, however.

At least two Republicans, Jack Davis and David Bellavia, are seeking third-party bids. New York’s quirky election law gives them until Monday to submit the required number of signatures to appear on the ballot under party names of their choosing.

Should they be successful, Davis, a deep-pocketed former Democratic Congressional candidate, would run on the Tea Party line, while Iraq War veteran Bellavia is seeking the Federalist line.

Ian Murphy, the Buffalo-based blogger who made national headlines recently by prank-calling Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), will likely represent the Green Party ballot line.

Major questions remain over whether the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will offer Hochul meaningful help, given the district’s strong conservative leanings and the possibility that it might be wiped away as part of the redistricting process. President Barack Obama captured just 46 percent of the vote here in 2008.

State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs told Roll Call earlier this month that he would follow the DCCC’s lead.