News & Election Videos

September 09, 2008

Powers failure?

The most compelling primary tonight is taking place in retiring Rep. Tom Reynolds’ (R-N.Y.) Rochester-area district, where the candidate backed by the Democratic establishment is far from assured of a victory.

Iraq war veteran Jon Powers entered the race as a highly-touted Democratic recruit. Despite facing two credible primary opponents, he was endorsed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the local party officials in the district.

But Powers has come under fire for excessively profiting from his role with an Iraq children’s charity, and he has faced an onslaught of attacks from self-funded businessman Jack Davis.

Davis, who ran against Reynolds in 2004 and 2006, has loaned his campaign over $1 million without receiving any individual donations. He has used his money to air three scathing attacks against Powers, accusing the first-time candidate of making “headlines with a strip club owner” and “taking money from big oil.”

Powers has responded in kind, accusing Davis of supporting cuts to Social Security.

The squabbling between the two has created an opening for retired environmental attorney Alice Kryzan, who has positioned herself as a viable alternative despite having less money than her opponents. But even as she tries to act above the fray, she has also gotten some shots in at the presumed frontrunner.

One of Kryzan’s ads also hits Powers for using his “kids’ charity to line his own profits.”

The winner of the Democratic primary will be facing businessman Chris Lee, who is running unopposed for the GOP nomination. He has already stockpiled over $750,000 in preparation for the November election.

Democrats rallied behind Powers’ campaign largely because the party viewed Davis as a seriously flawed general election nominee. Davis recently drew criticism for suggesting that increased immigration from Mexico would cause another Civil War.

Given the Democratic squabbling – and the possibility that Davis could again emerge as the party nominee – Lee looks in stronger position than anyone would have expected when he first entered the race.