New York state's 26th District is a Republican-safe enclave near Rochester and Buffalo where the GOP holds a 30,000 voter registration edge, bucked a statewide trend and voted for John McCain over Barack Obama, and has held the House seat since forever. But now the wheels are coming off the party station wagon.
In February, married Republican Congressman Christopher Lee, a scold who had warned against the perils of the Internet, was outted when a website published a sexy photo of him topless that he sent to a prospective chippie on CraigsList. He lied about his marital status and his job, and soon had no job.
Enter popular Republican State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, who was a sure bet to win the May 24 special election.
What then was no less an eminence than House Speak John Boehner doing campaigning at Corwin's side earlier this week? Why did a national GOP group affiliated with Karl Rove pony up with $600,000 in campaign ads? And why are Republicans so afraid of Kathy Hochul, Corwin's opponent, whose only claim to fame is being Erie County clerk?
In a word, Medicare.
Republicans want to gut the popular program even though they now say that a vote to that effort in the House was all a misunderstanding. (They thought they were voting on toppings for pizzas, or something.) Republican congressfolk are finding out in town hall meetings across the country that their older and less affluent constituents, some of whom waved their canes at them, like Medicare just the way it is.
A recent poll found that 59 percent of 26th District Republicans like Medicare just the way it is and don't want it to fall victim to deficit reduction, but Corwin is still campaigning on gutting it. And as if Corwin doesn't have enough problems, there is Jack Davis, a former Democrat who has Tea Party backing and is nipping at her heels.
And so the Reverse Robin Hood thuggery of the GOP has come home to roost in a once safe district. You can expect the situation to be replicated elsewhere over and over again, and a slew of freshman Republican congress folk fear just that. So fearful are they that they're begging President Obama to rein in the anti-GOP attack ads. Oh, and the AARP attack ads haven't even begun running.
Poor widdle babies!Photograph by David Duprey/The Associated Press