I suppose the only surprising thing about this story is that after steeping in New York politics for so many years I retain the ability to be surprised when politicians disappoint me. According to some generally reliable sources, it appears that, contrary to all common sense, Governor Andrew Cuomo is going to toss caution to the wind and schedule a special election for Anthony Weiner’s congressional seat in September.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will call a special election on Sept. 13 to fill former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat, WNBC-TV reporter Andrew Siff reported.
Siff tweeted that the date to replace the Democratic lawmaker who resigned in a sexting scandal would not be formally set until after the state legislative session ends later this week.
The date coincides with the statewide primary election date for local races, though few high-profile contests will be on the ballot in Weiner’s old Queens and Brooklyn district.
You’ll note the rather transparent choice of scheduling a special election to take place on the same date as the normally scheduled primary. On the one hand this makes good political sense, because picking some other oddball date in August would have run up a considerable bill for the people of New York to pay. Unfortunately it also points out the rank hypocrisy of the decision. If you’re willing to have people show and vote on 9/13 in relation to the congressional seat, why not just have a primary on that date and elect the next … errr… “member” (sorry) on the normal date in November?
In a rather scathing editorial, the New York Daily News calls out the governor for the foolishness of this choice.
It has been widely reported that voters will go to the polls in a “special election” to pick someone for the seat that Weiner is vacating. The implication is that district residents will get to consider a field of contenders.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The term “special election” has a particular meaning in New York. It signifies that the Democratic Party bosses will place one and only one candidate on the ballot and present just that person to the voters for ratification.
This is precisely the reason that special elections in New York have become a bad, not terribly funny national joke. It’s also the reason that we wind up attracting a raft of third party candidates who frequently wind up being insufficiently vetted, under funded, unelectable or just plain whacky. If we followed the normal primary process and let the entire party membership across the district select the nominee you would see some broad support. Allowing Queens Democratic Party Chairman Rep. Joe Crowley to personally select the next member of Congress is not only inefficient and offensive to most voters but, frankly, unamerican.
It may be true that the district will go away next year after redistricting is finished. Or maybe it won’t. Either way, the people of the district deserve representation of their own choosing no matter how short the time. Cuomo should hang his head in shame.