Just when you thought Buffalo’s airwaves had reached the saturation point in the big congressional race between Chris Collins and Kathleen C. Hochul, another $700,000 arrived Monday from yet another Washington advocacy group to fuel a new round of ads.
And as Hochul, the Democratic incumbent, and Republican challenger Collins prepare to debate tonight from the studios of WNED-TV, it’s all another sign that the high-energy race for the 27th Congressional District is approaching the frantic stage. Not counting money spent by the campaigns themselves, the new ad sponsored by the pro-Republican American Action Network hikes spending by outside groups to nearly $3 million – with more most likely on the way.
“The reality is that especially on their side of the aisle, they can count on the outside groups to do their work for them,” said Hochul spokesman Francis Thomas.
But American Action Network, which counts former GOP Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds of Clarence as a member of its board of directors, makes no apologies for raising and spending lots of money on a race viewed nationally as critical.
“Kathy Hochul wishes that her record of higher taxes and reckless spending would vanish, but we know better,” said spokeswoman Brook Hougesen. “Hochul’s record is clear: more taxes, more spending, and fewer jobs for Western New Yorkers.”
Those topics are expected to stimulate some lively exchanges between the candidates tonight, when Channel 17 airs the first of three debates to be held over the next few days. Tonight’s face-off will air at 7 p.m. on television over WNED, WGRZ, and WHEC in Rochester, and on radio on WBFO-FM 88.7 and WNED-AM 970. The hourlong event will also be streamed online at wbfo.org (audio), wgrz.com and buffalonews.com.
The pair also will meet Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. on WNLO Channel 23 in a debate originating from the studios of WIVB-TV, Channel 4. They also meet Oct. 24 in an event sponsored by YNN Cable TV.
In the meantime, outside groups continue their surrogate wars, with Collins benefiting the most by far. Only about $500,000 has been independently allocated for Hochul by the House Majority PAC, with several other groups lining up behind the former Erie County executive.
The new spot is called “Three Wishes,” and highlights what the advocacy group calls Hochul’s record of “supporting liberal tax-and-spend policies.”
“With her first wish, she voted to raise taxes almost 50 percent. With her second, she voted to increase spending even more,” the ad says. “With her third wish, Hochul voted for the job-killing health care law and to increase taxes on small business.
“And if Kathy Hochul had one more wish, what should she wish for?” the ad concludes. “She’d wish her voting record would go away.”
Thomas, the Hochul spokesman, noted sourcing of the ad’s claims regarding Hochul’s tax record refers to stories in The Buffalo News that analyzed commercials for Republican Jane L. Corwin during the 2011 special election campaign. He said her record as a member of the Hamburg Town Council has been analyzed “ad nauseum,” and did not dispute The News’ 2011 determination that Hochul did vote 11 times for tax increases totaling 45 percent.
But he said the new ad implies that Hochul voted to increase taxes “almost 50 percent” while a member of Congress.
“The ad, overall, gives the appearance that it’s about her congressional record,” Thomas said. “The reality is that Kathy, when she went to Congress, voted to cut taxes many times.”
He then provided a list of several congressional votes in which he said Hochul voted to cut taxes and spending.
“This is typical of outside groups coming in, playing loose with the facts, and articulating facts that just aren’t there,” Thomas said, adding he also disputes the “willful” distortion of her record in Congress.
“Which is what this election is all about,” he said.
Hougesen said the ad refers to Hochul’s Hamburg record and that the sources cited point to her time in Town Hall.
“Kathy Hochul really is trying to wish her record away,” she said. “It’s astounding she doesn’t want to accept responsibility for her documented voting record.”