House candidate Jack Davis, who is running as an independent in a special election match-up for New York's 26th district congressional seat, appears to strike a Republican volunteer in video footage released by the Erie County GOP on Wednesday night.
In the fifteen-second clip, Davis takes physical action against the man behind the camera after being asked why he backed out from participating in a debate scheduled for Thursday evening. Just beforehand he asks, "Hey, you wanna punch it out?”
Local station WIVB relays a statement from the Davis camp on the altercation. "You have an operative from an opposing campaign harassing and assaulting a candidate for federal office. This person was pushing a camera in Jack's face, preventing him from getting in his car. Standing in his way, trying to antagonize him and trying to get video that would look like far more than what actually happened," said spokesman Curtis Ellis.
The race pits the GOP's Jane Corwin against Democrat Kathy Hochul in a contest that is complicated by the Tea Party candidacy of former Democratic candidate and businessman Jack Davis.
A recent survey by the liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling had Hochul leading the divided contest, raising shades of the infamous special election in the last cycle that made Rep. Bill Owens the first Democrat to win New York's 23rd Congressional District since the Civil War. He won after a Tea Party-backed candidate chased a moderate Republican from the contest.
Davis released a statement on Wednesday explaining his decision to not participate in debates against rival candidates.
"After thinking about this long and hard, I have come to a decision that I will not participate in the alleged debates. Jane Corwin and Kathy Hochul can use the television time to explain how both political parties have sent our jobs overseas and spent our nation into debt," he said after accusing his opponents of perpetuating lies in conducting their campaigns. "I will speak directly with the voters who want and deserve honest answers."
The Hill reports that along with the Erie County GOP, the National Republican Congressional Committee also passed along the clip of Davis getting physical to reporters.