In upstate New York congressional races, the Democratic tide sweeping the nation was visible only in patches.
Democrats won a decisive victory with a well-funded former aide to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Dan Maffei, who beat
Representative Republican Dale Sweetland in Syracuse.
And the party stands on the cusp of picking off another incumbent. Absentee ballots in the race between Democrat Eric Massa, who has the enthusiastic backing of the progressive blogger set, and Representative Randy Kuhl, are still being counted.
Even though the A.P. already called the race for Massa, who is currently in the lead, neither candidate has either declared victory or conceded.
But Democrats fell decidedly short in the Buffalo-area race between Democrat Alice Kryzan and Republican Chris Lee, who were both seeking to fill the seat Tom Reynolds is retiring from.
Lee won with a decisive margin of 55-40, and no one seems to know why for sure.
“Kryzan was a better candidate, and she lost by a bigger margin. I’m looking for an answer, other than that it was a Republican district, and it behaved like a Republican district,” said Kevin Hardwick, a political observer at Canisius College.
(The seat had been held by Reynolds since 1998.)
Kryzan herself told the Niagara Gazette that negative attack ads run by Lee, an Erie County businessman, which labeled her a “liberal trial lawyer,” tipped the balance.
“All I can say is shame on him,” Kryzan said.
But Hardwick points out that ads run by the DCCC against Lee, alleging his company outsourced jobs to China, were “over the top” and “actually may have hurt Kryzan.”
Tuesday evening, Erie County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan downplayed the odds from the start. “Keep in mind, Chris Lee had three lines and is a multi-millionaire.”
There was also something of an enthusiasm gap. Kryzan surprised observers when she won the primary over Jon Powers, who had a great deal of support from blogs and raised $325,000 through progressive web sites.
Also, even though Powers withdrew from the race (in a weird side narrative, he also sort of disappeared) and endorsed Kryzan, she was unable to take his place on the Working Families Party line, despite a lawsuit and an appeal.
It probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference, though. Powers got almost 11,000 votes, but Kryzan needed more than 37,000 to close the gap.