Underdog in primary an unexpected victor

After a campaign that focused on mudslinging between candidates Jon Powers and Jack Davis, retired environmental lawyer Alice Kryzan pulled off the upset in the Democratic primary for New York's 26th Congressional District.

In the Nov. 4 election, Kryzan will face Republican Christopher Lee for the seat vacated by Republican Rep. Thomas Reynolds who is retiring after nine years in the position.

With 97 percent of the unofficial results submitted, Kryzan finished with 42 percent of the vote. Powers had 36 percent, while Davis managed just 23 percent. The primary race was expected to be close and, according to Jane Flasch, a WHAM News reporter at Kryzan's campaign headquarters, Kryzan herself expected it to come down to absentee ballots.

After the results began coming in, WHAM News anchor Evan Dawson, who moderated the Democratic debate held at Geneseo last week, projected, "It looks like, if nothing crazy happens, Alice Kryzan is going to win. It is, to many, a surprise."

Iraq war veteran and former substitute teacher Jon Powers, the endorsed Democratic candidate, was initially expected to win. Powers received the most votes in Livingston County, where his campaign organization raised more supporters per capita than any other county.

Kryzan, however, took Monroe, Niagara, and Erie counties, in which 72 percent of the district's voters reside. Davis did not win in any county.

There is speculation that Powers will appear on the ticket for the Working Families party, but he yet to not announce whether or not he will continue to campaign. Powers was unable to be reached for comment.

The view expressed by many was articulated by one blogger who attributed Kryzan's win to the mudslinging that took place between the Davis and Powers campaigns.

"With Davis and Powers crushing each other, Alice Kryzan positioned herself as an alternative," said user 'stlo7' on the RochesterTurning blog. Other than a commercial portraying Powers and Davis fighting one another, Kryzan managed to stay away from smear campaigning.

A late addition to the race with far fewer funds than her opponents, Kryzan built her campaign on being the only lifelong Democrat in the race and being straightforward with the voters.

"I'm the same person today that I was at the beginning of the campaign," she told the Democrat & Chronicle.

Senior Ben DeGeorge, an organizer of last week's debate, was surprised by the outcome.

"I thought she was going to come in third," he said. "If you look at the lawn signs that are out, you see all Jon Powers. It shows that you can never be negative. This is absolutely a lesson in that."

The Democrat & Chronicle reports that the National Republican Congressional Committee attacked Kryzan as soon as it became clear that she had won, citing her opposition to offshore and Alaskan drilling. As Lee is the only Republican candidate, his campaigning will now be getting off the ground. He said he is looking forward to debating the issues with Kryzan.

In the 26th District, 41 percent of voters are registered as Republican and 32 percent are registered Democrat.