- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 24, 2011

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Democrats have picked off a heavily Republican upstate New York congressional seat in a special election that became a referendum on Medicare.

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

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 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.