The May 24 special House election in upstate New York is attracting the first slew of outside spending in the current election cycle. Party committees and other nonprofit groups have spent more than $1.88 million on this race so far.
The three-way race between Democrat Kathleen Hochul, Republican Jane Corwin and self-described Tea Party candidate Jack Davis has attracted spending from both national party committees and some outside groups that were the most prolific spenders in the 2010 elections. The National Republican Congressional Committee that has spent more than $424,000 opposing both Hochul and Davis, which is less than the $689,000 that the conservative Super PAC American Crossroads has spent opposing the two.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent $266,700 on buying ad time opposing Corwin and Davis in the run up to the election.
Those figures come from Sunlight’s Follow the Unlimited Money tracker, which is now updating daily with all the new independent expenditure filings and data for the 2012 cycle. The tracker lets reporters and citizens follow which outside groups are attempting to influence elections, which are spending the most money, which are disclosing donors, and which have filed with the Federal Election Commission as Super PACs. It also includes an archive of spending by outside groups from the 2010 election.
What was once considered an easy win for the Republicans changed after Hochul recently gained advantage after criticizing the Republican plan to overhaul Medicare as not favoring retirees, a large section of the electorate in the area. Davis's presence on the ballot also complicates the race; though he is running as a Tea Party candidate, Davis earlier ran as Democrat, and spent $5 million of his personal wealth attempting to win the seat.
This special election comes after Rep. Chris Lee’s resignation in February, which came after he e-mailed a photo of himself shirtless to a woman he met on Craigslist while trying to set up a date with her. Lee is married; when the photo and accompanying story showed up on the Internet, Lee, a Republican first elected to Congress in 2008, resigned.