This normally wouldn’t get a lot of attention, but the race to fill the House seat in upstate New York became a referendum on the Republicans and Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan, they made it a national election, and they lost decisively.
Democrats scored an upset in one of New York’s most conservative Congressional districts on Tuesday, dealing a blow to the national Republican Party in a race that largely turned on the party’s plan to overhaul Medicare.
The results set off elation among Democrats and soul-searching among Republicans, who questioned whether they should rethink their party’s commitment to the Medicare plan, which appears to have become a liability heading into the 2012 elections.
Two months ago, the Democrat, Kathy Hochul, was considered an all-but-certain loser in the race against the Republican, Jane Corwin. But Ms. Hochul seized on the Republican’s embrace of the proposal from Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, to overhaul Medicare, and she never let up.
On Tuesday, she captured 47 percent of the vote to Ms. Corwin’s 43 percent, according to unofficial results. A Tea Party candidate, Jack Davis, had 9 percent.
To give you an idea how conservative this district is, it went for Carl Paladino over Andrew Cuomo for governor last fall. It was also Jack Kemp’s district when he was in Congress.
The spinning has already begun: “Well, you know, special elections don’t really mean anything, and Jack Davis, the Tea Party dude was really a Democrat in disguise and hey, how about those Yankees?”
What happens now is that Republicans and the Villagers are going to stop calling Paul Ryan’s plans “bold” and “courageous” and, if they haven’t already, start running away from him as if he had the plague: “Well, you know, I never really liked the plan, but it’s a good starting point for a discussion and we need to look at all the options, and hey, how about those Tigers?”
The only questions that remain are: What made the Republicans think that voting en masse in April to support the Ryan budget and ending Medicare as we know it made any sense at all, and why did they think they could get away with it? Is their hatred for President Obama so blinding that even such political geniuses as Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich wouldn’t see that coming up with an attack on the most popular government plan in generations would spell disaster for them? In terms of letting passion and emotion overtake the sensibilities and political astuteness, this plan is the political equivalent of Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress.