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A very special election: Dems win NY-26

“Kathleen Courtney Hochul, the Erie County clerk and longtime Democratic figure who defied political experts who had given her little chance of success, ground out a stunning and surprisingly comfortable victory Tuesday in the special election for the House seat in the predominantly Republican 26th Congressional District,” the Buffalo News says. “The results marked a stunning defeat for the GOP in a contest that garnered intense national attention as the first competitive race following the Republican takeover of the House in last November's elections.” She said in her victory speech: "We had the issues on our side. We can balance the budget the right way and not on the backs of our seniors.”

In a separate story, the Buffalo News writes, “For Republicans from Alaska to Maine, including those in Erie County GOP headquarters, the soul-searching already has begun… With Jane L. Corwin, the Republican candidate, struggling under the weight of a Medicare reform plan that she, like 235 House Republicans, supported, a handful of Republicans across the country had started edging away from the proposal even before local voters went to the polls.”

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: “Voters chose Democrat Kathy Hochul over Republican Jane Corwin on Tuesday in the 26th Congressional District, once friendly Republican territory… Hochul, 52, used shoe-leather campaigning and Corwin's support for an unpopular Republican proposal to overhaul Medicare to her advantage. Corwin, 47, wasn't helped by the presence of third place finisher Jack Davis, 78, who tried to fashion a "Tea Party" candidacy, and her own campaign's missteps.”

The New York Times front-pages the outcome. “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.”

Roll Call calls it an “embarrassing” loss for Republicans, “frustrating the national GOP establishment and its allies, who invested millions of dollars in the contest.” And it sums up the politics: “Democrats cheered the outcome as the direct result of voter dissatisfaction with the House Republican budget plan, which Corwin supported and would fundamentally reshape Medicare. Republicans largely blamed the loss on Davis, a former Democrat who occupied the Tea Party ballot line and spent more than $2.5 million from his personal fortune on a campaign that ultimately siphoned votes away from Corwin.”

The Hill: “The Democrats’ triumph in the GOP stronghold of upstate New York Tuesday has wide-ranging ramifications on the 2012 battles for control of Congress and the White House… While the 2012 general election is a political eternity away, Tuesday's result ensures Democrats will be talking about Medicare for the next year-and-a-half.”

The New York Post’s lead: “Democrat Kathy Hochul last night won a special election to fill a vacant US House seat in a conservative upstate New York district -- snatching victory by campaigning against the GOP plan to transform Medicare.”