Democrat Kathy Hochul has won a special congressional election in a conservative pocket of western New York, a race dominated by the national debate over House Republicans’ proposal to overhaul Medicare, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
Hochul, the Erie County Clerk, beat Republican state Assemblywoman Jane Corwin and Jack Davis, a wealthy businessman who ran on the “Tea Party” ticket. Early returns showed Hochul with a solid lead over Corwin, with Davis trailing far behind.
The AP called the race shortly after 10 pm ET.
The contest had become central in the fight over Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, which would convert Medicare into a voucher-style system. Hochul spent weeks hammering Corwin for her support of the plan and appeared to make headway in moving independents and older voters to her corner.
The Democrat’s victory is a red-flag reminder of the political risks of backing changes to Medicare, one few GOP candidates can now afford to ignore. It’s also an embarrassing blow for House Republican leaders as they try to push the White House to accept spending cuts and entitlement reforms.