“The voters of this district have sent me to Washington because I said I’m willing to fight for them on Medicare, make sure the lobbyists pay for their fair share and get our budget under control,” she said. “Whatever happens nationally, I’m very focused on my new district. “The question is: Did I have the confidence and faith of Republicans, Democrats and independents who listened to our message loud and clear? We’re going to protect seniors, we’re going to protect the middle class and small businesses.” – Hochul gains odds-defying victory

Rep. Paul Ryan’s so called “courage” to leave seniors with only a voucher to help themselves proved a fatal error last night. Adam Green of PCCC took it as a signal that just maybe Democrats should take it on the road, first to New Hamphire where Annie Kuster is running against Charlie Bass:

“The No. 1 issue in this special election? Medicare, and Paul Ryan’s plan to end it! Shall we keep the momentum going?” the email continues. “Annie Kuster ““ the bold progressive House candidate running in a swing New Hampshire district ““ just went on offense with a hard-hitting op-ed holding Republican Charlie Bass accountable for voting to end Medicare.”

So, this seems like an odd, remote congratulations from Pres. Obama, who has never had the fire in the belly, as they say, for domestic issues that move voters emotionally. He’s fine with speeches made of cotton candy, but bread and butter that hits home always seems to elude him.

“I want to extend my congratulations to Congresswoman-elect Kathy Hochul for her victory in New York’s 26th Congressional District. Kathy and I both believe that we need to create jobs, grow our economy, and reduce the deficit in order to outcompete other nations and win the future. Kathy has shown, through her victory and throughout her career, that she will fight for the families and businesses in western New York, and I look forward to working with her when she gets to Washington.”

Insecurity about Medicare drove voters of all parties, but Obama doesn’t mention it.

He was redeemed by the new DNC chairwoman and what she said in contrast, even going after tax breaks for the wealthy:

“I wholeheartedly congratulate Congresswoman-Elect Hochul and her grassroots supporters for their hard work and dedication despite being outspent by a 2-to-1 margin. Tonight’s election result is not just a victory for Congresswoman-Elect Kathy Hochul, it’s a victory for the residents of Western New York and for Americans who believe that our elected leaders should fight to protect Medicare and ensure that our government works for our seniors, working families and young people. Kathy’s Republican opponent, and those who spent a small fortune on her behalf in a solidly Republican district, found out the hard way that their extreme plans to abolish Medicare and slash Medicaid and investments in health care, education, innovation and job creation are wrongheaded and unpopular even in a district that should have been a cakewalk for the Republican candidate.

“Just a few months ago, former Republican Congressman Lee won the 26th district with 74 percent of the vote “” but since that time Republicans have voted to end Medicare and place a whole host of additional burdens on seniors, young people and working families while preserving tax breaks for millionaires, billionaires and big oil and they have been on the wrong side of public sentiment every since.

“Tonight’s result has far-reaching consequences beyond New York. It demonstrates that Republicans and Independent voters, along with Democrats, will reject extreme policies like ending Medicare that even Newt Gingrich called radical. With this election in the rear-view mirror, it is my hope that Republicans will accept the message being sent by voters in this race, in the polls and at town hall meetings across the country and work with Democrats to get our fiscal house in order while protecting Medicare and other initiatives vital to our economic recovery.”

This is reminiscent of NY-23, because even though it didn’t produce a Tea Party winner, it did foreshadow a rising tide that would crest in November 2010.

Eric Cantor and others wanting Paul Ryan to run for president is a sign that they don’t understand the mood of the people at all, which is what felled Democrats in 2010. People talk about a balanced federal budget and cutting programs, but they don’t want to have to pay for GOP austerity in their own lives when it means the difference between in actually enjoying the life you’re living.

The other winner last night was the senator from the great state of New York, Kirsten Gillibrand, who didn’t question backing Kathy Hochul, but instead dove in to give her credibility and a partner.

But it was Kathy Hochul and her team who had the instincts to ride Medicare hard and hang it around her opponents necks.

See, voters believe Republicans will leave them out in the cold, so they’re not going to take any chances. It means the House can go Democratic in 2012 no matter what else happens.

**originally posted at 9:20 a.m.**

Screen capture from Huffington Post.