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Abortion-rights groups target candidate to replace former U.S. Rep. Lee in upcoming N.Y. special election

In about three weeks, upstate New Yorkers will decide who should replace former U.S. Rep. Chris Lee, who in early February resigned after Gawker exposed scandalous e-mails between Lee and an unidentified woman on Craigslist in which the Republican congressman lied about his age, occupation and marital status. Leading up to the May 24 special election for New York’s 26th congressional district, abortion-rights groups are pushing for the pro-abortion rights Democrat on the ticket — who, as recent polls indicate, might have a shot, as the conservative electorate is divided between a Republican and a tea partier.

Abortion-rights groups Emily’s List and NARAL Pro-Choice New York are rallying behind Democratic candidate and current Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul who is running against GOP candidate and current state Assemblywoman Jane L. Corwin and tea party candidate Jack Davis, a millionaire businessman and former U.S. Coast Guard officer.

Emily’s List, which in its endorsement of Hochul calls her “an innovative leader and fiscal watchdog,” sees the open seat as an opportunity, not only to flip a previously GOP-held seat but to build “vital momentum for the 2012 campaign.”

Similarly looking ahead to 2012, with plans to add more abortion-rights supporters to both chambers of Congress, NARAL Pro-Choice New York has also endorsed Hochul, whom they’ve termed a “100% pro-choice candidate, who will defend both the reproductive health and rights of the women of New York State.”

Reacting to the abortion-rights group’s endorsement, Hochul last week stated: ”Once in Congress, I will fight alongside NARAL Pro-Choice New York to ensure women have access to safe and adequate health services, without any interference from the federal government.”

Even before New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called a special election to fill Lee’s seat, The Washington Post reported that the seat would likely remain Republican. But the Post has changed its tune, pointing out that with a close distance between Hochul and Corwin (31 percent vs. 36 percent, respectively, according to a Siena Research Institute poll released Friday) and the tea party’s man taking 23 percent of the vote, it’s going to be a close race.

From the Post:

Davis is taking a good chunk of Democratic votes in the poll, but he pulls more from Republicans and independents. In a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats 40 percent to 32 percent, and 28 percent of voters are in neither party, Hochul has the most to gain from a divided field.

Conservative website Life News, which writes that the congressional seat was “in solid pro-life hands with Rep. Lee,” recently reported that the anti-abortion rights community fears a Hochul victory and is not completely won over by Corwin given her support for the right to an abortion during the first trimester of a pregnancy. Davis is similarly dismissed for comments he has made in the past about abortion being a “woman’s choice.”

From Life News:

For Corwin, drawing such an arbitrary line where legal rights begin for unborn children certainly undermines any claim to a truly pro-life position.

But nothing would be worse than Hochul for anti-rights groups, according to Life News:

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.****

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