A Democrat has won an upset victory in a hotly contested race for a U.S. congressional seat from upstate New York, where proposed cuts to federal health assistance were seen as a pivotal issue.
Democrat Kathy Hochul won the seat Tuesday in New York's 26th Congressional District, where Republican Chris Lee stepped down after a scandal earlier this year.
Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district. Until recently, the Republican candidate, Jane Corwin, was expected to win easily.
But Hochul gained ground in recent weeks. Final results gave Hochul 47 percent of the vote and Corwin 43 percent. A Tea Party ((ar-right) candidate, Jack Davis, got 9 percent of the vote.
Some Democrats said Corwin's campaign floundered because she supported a Republican proposal to lower government spending in part by cutting funding for and transforming Medicare - the public health insurance program for people 65 and over.
Observers say this election could be an indication of how Republicans and the Medicare plan will fare in nationwide elections next year.
Corwin's decline may also have been due in part to a third candidate, Jack Davis, who ran with the support of the conservative Tea Party movement. He may have drawn votes from people who otherwise would have supported the Republican candidate.