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Inside the 27th District 'toss-up'

A few points and counterpoints underscoring the state of politics in Western New York:

* Point: In the big 27th District race between Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul and one of two Republican challengers -- Chris Collins or David Bellavia -- the Washington Post reports the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (the panel charged with electing more Democrats to the House) has reserved $32 million worth of ad time in about three dozen competitive districts.

The national Dems, however, did not reserve time in Hochul's Buffalo/Rochester market, now even more Republican than her current district as a result of reapportionment.

Counterpoint: Roll Call, the influential newspaper for Washington insiders, calls the race a "toss-up." The Rothenberg Political Report calls it a "pure toss-up."

Bottom line: "By the numbers, this district should lean Republican, but Hochul's likability and the potential GOP contenders make this a toss-up race for now," Roll Call said.

* Point: Democratic sources report that an early 2011 county executive poll, pitting then-County Clerk Hochul against then-County Executive Collins, showed Hochul beating Collins by double-digits.

Counterpoint: The poll included the heavily Democratic City of Buffalo and other Erie County towns not part of the new 27th Congressional District where Collins and Hochul may square off. And Collins forces are quick to note he garnered about 63 percent of the vote in those Erie County towns now part of the new district.

In one more strike against the congresswoman, studies show only 44 percent of voters in the new district favored President Obama in 2008.

Bottom line: Both sides expect a competitive race, no matter what the Washington types proclaim.

* Point: Collins says he will not raise funds for his primary contest against Bellavia, using his own money until the June 26 faceoff. He is expected to avoid television and concentrate on direct mail, social media and the "tele-town hall" method he used last week to hone in on 8,000 prime Republican voters.

Counterpoint: Bellavia reported a mere $11,000 raised so far.

Bottom line: Bellavia enjoys support from party organizations in outlying counties, but needs to raise dollars -- and soon. He must also heed the advice of senior Republicans who are counseling that he needs a real and experienced staff in place -- also soon.

* Point: State Independence Party leaders granted Republican Collins their often-influential line earlier this month.

Counterpoint: The Collins team never circulated Independence petitions, concentrating instead on the Republican and Conservative lines. As a result, Collins does not get the line.

Bottom line: Independence member Megan Lavin circulated and filed petitions, and will represent the party in November, barring any successful objections filed to her candidacy.

* Point: Hochul dropped a hint of possible campaign strategy a few days ago during a visit to The Buffalo News. She questioned the record of Collins the businessman and whether he cut jobs at his various companies.

Counterpoint: Collins has never shied away from his business record, and may echo Mitt Romney's expected theme of using business experience to become a "fixer" in Washington.

Bottom line: Stay tuned.

* Point: Switching to one other topic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will host a rescheduled fundraiser at the under-renovation Lafayette Hotel on Wednesday in what is billed as a major event. Indeed, ticket prices begin at $5,000.

Counterpoint: There is no counterpoint to a fundraiser with tickets starting at $5,000.