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Politics Today: New York-26 Special Election Wrap-Up, Wisconsin Voters Support Recall Of Gov. Walker, And More

Tracy Bloom |
May 25, 2011 | 2:20 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Democrat Kathy Hochul scored an upset victory Tuesday night in the heavily conservative 26th district of New York, an election that was deemed to be a referendum on Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's budget and Medicare cuts. But what does her victory mean for Democrats and Republicans as the 2012 election inches closer?

The Washington Post's Dan Balz: "Call it a wake-up call or a major setback. Whatever, the victory by Democrat Kathy Hochul in a heavily Republican congressional district, in a race in which Medicare was a major issue, reinforced the reality that the GOP plunged into a debate over entitlements reform without a strategy for winning the battle for public opinion."

Time's Mark Halperin: "There’s no way to spin this result. Both the reality and the perception are in sync: Republicans’ bet on pushing the Ryan Medicare plan through the House has cost them what should have been a totally safe GOP seat. All the other factors – a third-party candidate and the weakness of the Republican nominee – are meaningless. The crazy thing for Republicans is that they walked the plank for a policy that has no chance to become law as long as Barack Obama is in the White House, much like Democrats did on cap and trade. Democrats are now energized and emboldened, secure in the knowledge that very few members of the media will hold them accountable for fudging the line by suggesting that current retirees would see their benefits changed under the Ryan plan. At the same time, Democrats in their hearts believe the Ryan plan is a bad idea, and now can push that line with off-the-shelf ease in every race in the country.

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein: "The Republican theory, that voters would come to appreciate the specifics of the legislation once they recognized the courageous leadership the GOP had shown in endorsing it, failed. That's bad new for the House GOP, where all but four Republicans voted for the budget, and it puts Senate Republicans in a tough spot, as they're going to be asked to vote on the Ryan budget in the coming days."

The New York Times' Nate Silver: "a seat that would ordinarily be won by Republicans by about 12 points, but was instead won by the Democrats by 6 points, is a pretty big deviation from the norm. Odds are, like in the special election in Massachusetts last year, that some part of this had to do with factors that could carry over to the national level, while some other part had to do with circumstances specific to the district."

Politico's David Nather: "Democrat Kathy Hochul’s big win in the New York special election Tuesday proved that voters are not, in fact, rewarding Republicans for political bravery in backing Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan. But then, they didn’t reward Democrats in 2010 for passing a health care reform law with about $500 billion in Medicare savings, either.

Time's Mike Murphy: "So what did the GOP loss in NY-26 really mean? For the Republicans trouble, and an opportunity to pivot to a better message as they face the 2012 elections."

ABC News posted an interesting video of former president Bill Clinton encouraging Republican Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan following the GOP's stunning special congressional election loss in New York.

In the video, Clinton tells Ryan: "I told them before you got here, I said I’m glad we won this race in New York, but I hope Democrats don't use this as an excuse to do nothing."

Ryan's response: "My guess is it's going to sink into paralysis is what's going to happen. And you know the math. It's just, I mean, we knew we were putting ourselves out there. You gotta start this. You gotta get out there. You gotta get this thing moving."

The two part with Clinton telling Ryan to give him a call if he ever wanted to talk about it. Both men were backstage at a forum on the national debt.

A slim majority of Wisconsin voters favor recalling Gov. Scott Walker, according to a newly released survey conducted by Public Policy Polling. The survey shows that 50 percent of voters favor recalling Walker, while 47 percent are opposed.

The poll also had other bad news for Gov Walker. According to PPP: "Although voters are pretty evenly divided on whether they would support a recall there's less doubt about who they would vote for if there actually was a recall election. They say they would pick Feingold over Walker by a 52-42 margin and Barrett over him by a 50-43 spread. In both of those match ups Democrats are more committed to replacing Walker than Republicans are to keeping him, and independents go on the side of swapping him out for Feingold or Barrett as well."

Former GOP Nevada Senate candidate Sharon Angle will not run for Nevada's 2nd district special election. In a statement, Angle said: "I do not have any desire to participate in a process described by others as a 'ballot royale' or a situation where the party central committees choose their nominees because it makes a mockery of the most important constitutional element in exercising freedom."

Candidate's can begin filing on Wednesday.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

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