Despite the fact that the GOP has a 26,000+ voter enrollment edge in NY-26 and has held the seat with only one interruption (redistricting makes this somewhat hard to explain) since 1953, the Democrats are thinking of putting up a fight for the seat vacated by former Rep. Chris Lee.

A WNY Democratic source informs me a number of county leaders from the more rural parts of the district are pushing Kathy Konst to run if and when Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls a special election.

Konst, as you’ll recall, is a former Erie County legislator who joined GOP County Executive Chris Collins’ administration as planning commissioner back in August 2009.

She also ran an unsuccessful state Senate run (in the 59th) in 2008 against then-GOP Sen. Dale Volker, losing 56-44.

Konst’s position on running has been described to be as “noncommittal,” but the DCCC has, according to my source, approached her to have discussion.

The last time the Democrats really made a big push in NY-26 was 2008 when the seat was open thanks to former Rep. Tom Reynolds decision not to seek re-election (he survived the Mark Foley congressional page scandal in 2006, but then decided to retire and become a lobbyist).

There was a Democratic primary that year in which Jon Powers lost to Alice Kryzan, who went on to lose to Lee, who then cruised to an easy re-election bid last fall.

This time around, of course, there won’t be a primary (assuming there’s a special election), although a NY-23 situation could emerge, I guess, if the WFP and Dems don’t agree on a candidate, or if a candidate without party backing petitions his or her way onto the ballot.

The Democrats have a history of defying the enrollment odds in NY (consider both NY-23 and NY-20, until this year, that is, when Republican Rep. Chris Gibson won back the district now-Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wrested from GOP control in 2006). It might require a NY-23 situation where the GOP and Conservatives are divided to make a Democratic victory possible in NY-26, although it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

This would be the first special election of 2011, and, more importantly, the first since the “shellacking” the Democrats experienced in the 2010 cycle, losing control of the House.

A win in NY-26 would enable the White House and DCCC (with Rep. Steve Israel, a Long Islander, at the helm) to demonstrate they mean business in 2012 and perhaps change the Republicans-on-the-advance narrative.

A few other Democratic names are being tossed around as potential NY-26 candidates – although not nearly as many as the Republicans are busily floating. So far, I’ve heard Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz mentioned, and Eric County Clerk Kathy Hochul, who was one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s validators at the state Democratic convention in Rye last summer.

UPDATE: One of the rural county chairs in NY-26 e-mailed the following:

“I am Democratic chair in one of the rural counties…I can tell you that Kathy Konst is not being pushed as a candidate by any of the rural chairs.”

“She has a small, dedicated band of people who back her for personal reasons, and they are Internet-savvy, but they are not speaking for any of us. The GLOW counties’ Democrats work together on a regular basis, and we are not pushing for Konst.”

And BuffaloPundit, with whom many readers are no doubt familiar, sent this:

“There are rumors floating around that Kathy Konst is a frontrunner or heavily favored among rural NY-26 Dem chairs to run to replace Lee. The Kathy Konst supposition is a figment of Kathy and Harry Konst’s own imagination.”

“Kathy Konst is seen locally as someone who sold out the Democratic Party to take a job with Chris Collins’ administration. I don’t have to tell you that that’s a pretty mortal sin in local Dem politics these days. Furthermore, her husband, who is her campaign manager, is pretty universally reviled locally.”

“I can tell you with 100% certainty from talking with people close to the party chairs in Erie and the GLOW counties (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wyoming) that Kathy Konst is persona non grata and is dreaming if she thinks the chairs would go with her for this race.”

“On top of her job with Collins, Konst was most recently in the news for a mini-scandal where she was paying far below market rent to live in a county-owned house near a beach on Lake Erie.”

“It just isn’t going to happen, and is being pushed by a variety of people as a trial balloon – they figure if enough people write it up, Konst will become the de facto frontrunner.”