In February, newly elected Congressman Chris Lee (R-NY) was forced to resign after a scandal involving an inappropriate email exchange with a woman he met on Craiglist. In order to fill Lee’s vacant seat, New York’s 26th District is poised to hold a special election on May 24th.
This Congressional seat was in solid pro-life hands with Rep. Lee, however, it is vulnerable to a pro-abortion takeover. The Democratic candidate, pro-abortion Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul has capitalized on a divided Republican electorate.
Republicans have nominated State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin. She has also received the endorsement of New York’s Conservative Party. NY Conservative Party Chairman Michael R. Long says Corwin “has a leg up because of her legislative record and because she has voted on issues correctly.”
Tea Party activists, not sold on Corwin’s conservative credentials, have put forth their own candidate, millionaire businessman Jack Davis. According to a Siena College Research Institute poll released Friday, Corwin (R) is in the lead with 36% of the vote. Hochul (D) follows close behind with 31% and Tea Party candidate Jack Davis trails with 23%.
The issue of abortion has been at the forefront of the campaign. Jane Corwin supports parental consent for minors, defunding abortion giant Planned Parenthood and a prohibition on federal funding for abortion. Giving pause to many pro-life advocates, Corwin has unfortunately expressed that she supports abortion during the first trimester. For Corwin, drawing such an arbitrary line where legal rights begin for unborn children certainly undermines any claim to a truly pro-life position.
However, the contrast between Corwin’s regrettably imperfect position and that of the Democratic candidate Kathy Hochul could not be starker. Hochul is a darling of the pro-abortion movement. EMILY’s List and NARAL Pro-Choice New York, political action committees focused on electing only the most extreme pro-abortion candidates, have endorsed Hochul. Commenting on NARAL’s endorsement, Hochul said, “I am deeply grateful for the support of NARAL Pro-Choice New York. Once in Congress, I will fight alongside NARAL Pro-Choice New York to ensure women have access to safe and adequate health services (abortion), without any interference from the federal government.”
Andrew Stern, interim Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice New York remarked, “It is critical that we add Hochul’s strong pro-choice voice to the allies we already have in Congress.”
Tea Party candidate Jack Davis has drawn the ire of many Republicans and pro-life advocates for putting the seat in danger of a Democratic takeover. With attacks focused mostly on Corwin, many view Davis as a spoiler candidate. Rather than highlighting the radical pro-abortion views of Hochul, Davis has spent a considerable portion of the campaign deriding the imperfections in Corwin’s position.
Davis, who ran for this Congressional seat three times previously, only recently adopted the Tea Party mantle. Running as a Democrat in 2004, 2006 and 2008, Davis endorsed the pro-abortion Obama-Biden ticket in 2008. In an August 23, 2008 press release, Davis remarked, “I pledge to do everything in my power to get them elected in November.” In his previous runs for Congress, Davis accepted campaign contributions from pro-abortion Democrats Charlie Rangel, Janet Napolitano, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and then-Senator Obama’s HopeFund PAC.
While the debate over records and statements will surely continue until Election Day, pro-life advocates should be careful not to provide an opportunity for Kathy Hochul to close the gap in the polls. A Hochul victory in this race would be a setback for the pro-life movement, which made monumental gains in the 2010 elections. It would be incredibly disheartening to see a pro-life seat fall into the hands of a NARAL-endorsed candidate due to ideological bickering on the right.