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ELECTIONS 2012: Hochul over Collins

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The 27th Congressional District race is essentially about two things: health care and jobs.

Incumbent Democratic Representative Kathy Hochul wants to keep the Affordable Care Act in place, though she's said it could be improved. Her Republican challenger, business owner and former Eric County executive Chris Collins, wants to repeal the ACA. But he's offered little in the way of an alternative other than tort reform.

Hochul is the better choice. She's got a handle on the problems facing farmers — agriculture is a major industry in the district — and tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to get House Republican leaders to put a new farm bill up for vote.

Manufacturing is another major industry in the 27th, and Hochul is critical of the free trade agreements she says have cost the district jobs. She also backs a package of Democratic bills meant to bolster domestic manufacturing.

Collins talks a lot about cutting government spending, but not how he'd do it. Similarly, he's talked about the importance of agriculture, but the only specific he's offered to help the industry is eliminating unspecified regulations.

The 27th district is largely Republican: 40 percent of voters are registered with the GOP, compared to 32 percent for Democrats. And historically the district elects Republicans.

But Hochul changed that when she won a special election to the seat in 2011. She successfully used a Republican budget plan developed by current vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan against her opponent. Specifically, she seized on the budget's proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher plan.

The 27th district begins in Erie County, which is really the district's anchor, and extends into neighboring rural counties. It also includes small parts of the towns of Hamlin, Wheatland, Rush, and Mendon in Monroe County.

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