Dem wins special election for N.Y. House seat

Democratic candidate for the 26th District Congressional seat, Kathy Hochul arrives at a campaign stop at a restaurant in Amherst, N.Y., May 24, 2011. AP Photo/David Duprey

BUFFALO, New York — Democrats have picked off a heavily Republican upstate New York congressional seat in a special election that was closely watched as a potential bellwether for U.S. national elections next year.

Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul edged past Republican state Assemblywoman Jane Corwin on Tuesday to win the seat in the 26th Congressional District in northwest New York state.

Special N.Y. election may kick off fight for House control in 2012

The rural-suburban district between Buffalo and Rochester is one of the state's most conservative. But Corwin saw her early lead dissolve after coming out in favor of a Republican budget plan that would cut billions from Medicare, the popular government health plan for seniors.

A third candidate, tea party contender Jack Davis, also siphoned votes away from Corwin.

The seat became vacant in February when Republican Rep. Chris Lee resigned after shirtless photos he sent to a woman surfaced online.

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