Kathy Hochul herself:
Tonight’s victory is an achievement many called impossible. Tonight we showed that many voters are willing to ignore a party label and vote for the person and for the message they believe in. We showed that thousands upon thousands of voters are more powerful than millions of dollars in outside money. We showed that our grassroots army — including thousands of donors and thousands of volunteers, who knocked on more than 53,000 doors and made more than 77,000 calls and over the last four days –could overcome our enrollment disadvantage and the fact that we were outspent by more than 2-to-1. ...
And we can balance our budget the right way — not on the backs of our seniors — but by closing corporate loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas, and ending subsidies to Big Oil and yes, by making the multi-millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share.
And we can ensure we do not decimate Medicare. We will keep the promises made to our seniors who have spent their lives paying into Medicare, so they can count on health care when they need it most.
Karl Rove's American Crossroads:
"Republican Jane Corwin gave it her all in a very tough special election today.The debate over whether Medicare mattered more than a third-party candidate who split the Republican vote is mostly a partisan Rorschach Test. What is clear is that this election is a wake-up call for anyone who thinks that 2012 will be just like 2010. It’s going to be a tougher environment, Democrats will be more competitive, and we need to play at the top of our game to win big next year.”
TPM's Benjy Sarlin notes they were singing a different tune just a day earlier.
DCCC Chair Steve Israel (via email):
“Today, the Republican plan to end Medicare cost Republicans $3.4 million and a seat in Congress. And this is only the first seat.
“Congratulations to Congresswoman-elect Kathy Hochul on her upset victory. Kathy is committed to strengthening Medicare and she will be a wonderful Representative for New York’s 26th district.
“We served notice to the Republicans that we will fight them anywhere in America when it comes to defending and strengthening Medicare.
“Even in one of the most Republican districts, seniors and independent voters rejected the Republican plan to end Medicare. The American people will continue to hold House Republicans accountable for their plan to end Medicare from now until election day 2012.”
NRCC Chair Pete Sessions:
Republican Jane Corwin ran a hard-fought campaign against two well-funded Democrats, including one masquerading under the Tea Party name. Obviously, each side would rather win a special election than lose, but to predict the future based on the results of this unusual race is naive and risky. History shows one important fact: the results of competitive special elections from Hawaii to New York are poor indicators of broader trends or future general election outcomes. If special elections were an early warning system, they sure failed to alert the Democrats of the political tsunami that flooded their ranks in 2010.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:
Kathy Hochul’s victory tonight is a tribute to Democrats’ commitment to preserve and strengthen Medicare, create jobs, and grow our economy. And it sends a clear message that will echo nationwide: Republicans will be held accountable for their vote to end Medicare.
Congresswoman-elect Hochul will add an independent, strong, passionate voice to the House Democratic Caucus as she works to build a better future for her constituents and for all Americans, bolster our middle class, support small businesses, and restore our economic prosperity.
They're even taking notice on the other side of the aisle. DSCC Chair Patty Murray (via email):
The election last night showed that Democrats have the keys to drive the budget debate and play offense in 2012.
The implications of this election extend to Senate races in battleground states and red states across the country. The results provide clear evidence that Democratic senators and senate candidates will be able to play offense across the country by remaining focused on the Republican effort to end Medicare and force seniors to pay thousands more for health care costs.
Club for Growth President Chris Chocola:
Political pundits will say that the Republican candidate for Congress in NY-26 lost because of Medicare. They’re wrong. This election was more of a referendum on a candidate’s ability to defend freedom than anything else.
In NY-26, the Republican party nominated a fairly conservative establishment Republican in Jane Corwin, but an ex-Democrat named Jack Davis, running as a “Tea-Party” candidate, siphoned votes from the Republican. The reason was not that Davis is obviously more conservative or because Corwin is not sufficiently conservative: It’s because Corwin did a terrible job articulating the free-market message, and Davis consistently demagogued the important issue of trade.
And finally, Jon Chait scores a series of exclusive interviews with Republicans who voted for the Ryan budget:(Hat-tip to Elspeth Reeve at the Atlantic)