Reporting from Williamsville, N.Y. — A major national "tea party" group is getting involved in the surprisingly tight special congressional election in upstate New York.
Sacramento-based Tea Party Express held two news conferences in New York's 26th congressional district on Monday, trying to highlight what they say is the fraudulent candidacy of Jack Davis.
Davis is registered as the "Tea Party" candidate and his self-funded campaign has been eating into support for Republican nominee Jane Corwin.
Some tea party activists argue that there is no such party, and that Davis, a onetime Democratic candidate, does not have the endorsement of major groups in the area.
"It's the hijacking of the tea party name," said Rus Thompson, a leader of TEA New York, an umbrella group of conservative organizations in the western part of the state. "Corwin is the tea party candidate."
Thompson appeared at the news conference in Corwin headquarters outside Buffalo. He was joined by former Republican candidate for governor Carl Paladino, a tea party favorite.
Tea Party Express chief strategist Sal Russo, a longtime California operative, said the group was trying to let conservatives know who the real tea party candidate is and were confident Davis' support would fall "once people realize they're being fooled."
Davis says he has support from some tea party groups.
The issue has become a headache for Corwin, who has plenty else to worry about. Her race has become something of a referendum on Rep. Paul D. Ryan's Medicare plan. Democrat Kathy Hochul has seen her support rise as she's hammered Corwin for supporting the plan.
The May 24 election is to replace Rep. Christopher Lee, a Republican who resigned in the wake of a scandal over provocative photos posted on Craigslist.