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RealClearPolitics Politics Nation Blog

 

Blog Home Page --> House -- New York -- 26

NY 26: Kryzan (D) +10

They may not have gotten the candidate they wanted, but Democrats still have a chance to capture another upstate New York seat this year, a new poll shows.

The survey, conducted by Brilliant Corners for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and EMILY's List, polled 400 likely voters 9/15-17 for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. Attorney Alice Kryzan, the Democratic nominee, and Republican businessman Christopher Lee were tested.

General Election Matchup
Kryzan.........39
Lee............29

The DCCC had favored Iraq war veteran Jonathan Powers, but Kryzan's primary upset derailed those plans. Lee didn't face a primary, meaning he's got a chance to grow through paid media. With so many undecided voters, the race to replace retiring Rep. Tom Reynolds is anyone's to win.

GOP Loses 2 NY Recruits

Though retiring Republican incumbents hold two western New York seats near Syracuse and the Canadian border, the party is having a difficult time coming up with top-notch candidates to hold the seats. In the past day alone, two top recruits have told the Washington GOP establishment that they will not be seeking their party's nomination to replace Reps. Tom Reynolds and Jim Walsh, while Democrats have largely settled on their candidates.

Walsh's Twenty-Fifth District, based around Syracuse, looks like one of the best pickup opportunities Democrats have in the Northeast. Former Congressional aide Dan Maffei, a Democrat who came just 3,000 votes from beating Walsh in 2006, is running again and has raised an impressive amount of money. Yesterday, Maffei's chances got a little better as top Republican challenger Peter Cappuccilli said he would not make a bid due to health concerns.

Cappuccilli, the former director of the New York State Fair, was warned by doctors that his health could seriously deteriorate and that he might have had something like a mini-stroke, the Syracuse Post-Standard reported late last night. Cappuccilli is currently visiting family and undergoing tests at a hospital in Florida, and his campaign says it plans to return all donations. The decision came just two weeks after another Republican, Randy Wolken, dropped out to unite the party around Cappuccilli, as we wrote yesterday.

In Reynolds' Twenty-Sixth District, GOP State Senator George Maziarz told the Niagara Falls Reporter that he will not run for the seat. Widely described as a Reynolds acolyte, Maziarz was on stage with the incumbent when he announced his retirement, and Maziarz's strong fundraising ability and political base base -- most of his Senate district is within Reynolds' Congressional district -- made him the early front-runner. In fact, strategists told the Falls Reporter that Maziarz would have had a better chance winning the district than Reynolds would have had in keeping it.

The surprise decision shifts focus to Assemblyman Jim Hayes and Nick Sinatra, the White House assistant political director, as well as an army veteran who won a Silver Star in Iraq and a lawyer from Buffalo. It also opens the door for Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul, who would enter the race as the only Democrat to have won an election. Current candidates Jonathan Powers, an Iraq war veteran, and Jack Davis, the party's nominee in 2004 and 2006, have no electoral victories to their names. Hochul's entry into the race would give Democrats a seriously improved chance at winning the seat.

The withdrawals from two prominent Republicans are big blows to a party already rocked by an unforgiving landscape. With just six seats out of New York's 29-member delegation, for Republicans to be in serious danger of losing two more is nothing short of a disaster. National Democrats are high on recruits challenging Reps. Randy Kuhl, also from upstate, Long Island's Peter King and Staten Island's Vito Fossella, but the GOP incumbents remain strong.

Of the five seats, only Kuhl's and Walsh's voted twice for President Bush, while Fossella's and King's favored Al Gore in 2000 and Bush in 2004. If and when the downstate incumbents retire, Democrats will have a strong chance at picking up two more seats. Upstate Rep. John McHugh is the only Republican in the state who has yet to face a serious challenge.

Ex-NRCC Chair Reynolds Out

Embattled Republican Rep. Tom Reynolds, the upstate New Yorker who chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee during the disastrous 2006 election cycle, will announce today that he will not seek re-election, the New York Daily News reported late last night. The retirement brings to twenty-nine the number of Republicans who will not run for re-election this year.

Hand-picked to replace former Rep. Bill Paxon in 1998, Reynolds had been a campaign aide as well as a policy wonk, one of the few members of Congress who actually paid attention to national politics. But as chair of the NRCC during a wave election, he saw thirty GOP seats flip to Democrats and, late in the cycle, even had to spend some time protecting his own seat, which he won by just 9,000 votes, or about 4%.

That campaign, against Democrat Jack Davis, a self-funding businessman, was made all the more difficult by the scandal surrounding former Florida Rep. Mark Foley. Reynolds and then-Speaker Dennis Hastert disagreed on when or if Reynolds informed the top Republican of allegations about Foley's behavior, and the NRCC chair took some of the blame for failing to keep House pages safe. It could have been worse: South of Reynold's district, Republican Sue Kelly lost her re-election bid thanks largely to the scandal.

The battle to replace Reynolds will be fiercely fought throughout the western New York district. The seat represents voters in the Buffalo suburbs to the Rochester suburbs, with rural areas in between. President Bush took a 12-point win there in 2004 after winning by seven in 2000. Democrats have already put up Iraq War veteran Jon Powers, and Davis is said to be thinking of another bid.

Republicans are in good position to hold the seat; the party has a significant registration edge, as 41% of voters there are registered with the GOP as compared with 31.5% who are registered Democrats. The remaining 27.5% are registered as independents or with another party. State Senator George Maziarz, Assemblyman Jim Hayes and former Assemblyman Charles Nesbitt are all said to be considering bids for the Republican nomination.

If the district becomes contentious, it will be another headache for New York Republicans, who find themselves running behind in retiring GOP Rep. Jim Walsh's district and having to defend Rep. Randy Kuhl.

Republicans on Capitol Hill won't say it, but they are probably not that upset Reynolds is leaving. His narrow win in 2006 was thanks to his own blunders, and another Republican may be more likely to hold the seat easily. Washington Republicans also privately blame Reynolds for the loss of several seats in 2006 and for leaving the NRCC with a huge amount of debt. Few tears, if any, will be shed in House GOP circles.