A couple of weeks ago we looked at the surprising story of New York Republican Congressman Tom Reed’s decision to announce his retirement from Congress, effective the same day. We already knew Reed wouldn’t be running for another term and there were candidates setting up their own bids to replace him, but he hadn’t been expected to leave until the end of his term. This created some additional confusion to add to the mess that New York’s primary process had already turned into thanks to the new congressional district maps. But we learned this week that there’s a catch to the story. Reed did indeed announce that he was leaving “effective immediately” and departed from Washington. But he still hasn’t turned in his official letter of resignation to New York’s Secretary of State’s office. And until he does, he’s not “officially” retired and that impacts the process of replacing him. (Syracuse.com)
Governor Kathy Hochul announced Monday a special election to fill the congressional vacancy in the 19th district, but still hasn’t set a date for a special election to fill the vacancy in the 23 district caused by the resignation of Congressman Tom Reed.
A spokesperson for the state tells NewsChannel 9: “The Department of State has not yet received a letter from Congressman Reed that complies with the requirements of Public Officers Law Section 31.”
That New York State law requires House members resign to the state’s Secretary of State
Reed apparently still has some of his presumably former staff working for him. One of them told reporters that Reed is “in communications with the Governor’s office and are cooperating with them to get this issue worked out.”
How long does it take to “work out” writing a letter of resignation and submitting it to an office in Albany? In Reed’s case, it apparently takes at least two weeks. I suppose it’s possible that he simply forgot he had to do it and, if so, the matter will likely be cleared up quickly. But could there be more to it than that?
As you may recall, we already discussed the portion of New York’s election laws governing the replacement of congressional members. Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, is empowered to call a special election when a member of the state’s congressional delegation resigns, dies, or otherwise leaves office early, but only if the opening takes place prior to July 1st of the second year of the member’s current term. Hochul formally called a special election yesterday, but could not announce a date because Reed isn’t “officially” retired in the eyes of the state yet.
Could Reed possibly be thinking about dragging his feet and not submitting the letter until July 2nd? That would prevent Hochul from holding the election of a new person to finish out his term. With the new maps that were just released on Friday, Reed’s former district has been completely transformed. Formerly more solidly red, the district has picked up a few more urban areas to the west and is now being described as one of several “toss-up” districts in New York.
If Hochul can manage to schedule an election for some time in midsummer and the Democrats somehow manage to flip the seat to their side, that person would be able to be seated immediately (while running for a full term of their own in November) and stay there until the next Congress is seated. Granted, it’s only one seat, but with the Democrats having such a slender margin in the House, one seat could wind up making a significant difference in their party’s desperate efforts to get any of Joe Biden’s stalled agenda shoved through before the anticipated red wave arrives.
Also, there will be even more chaos in New York as a result. Parts of the 23rd district could wind up having five elections this year. They’re already having two primaries, one in June and one in August because of the redistricting. Then there’s the general election in November. But now there may also be a special election that will have to have its own primary as well unless it’s scheduled on the same day as one of the other primaries.
Reed could put the entire matter to rest this week by submitting his letter. But is he really motivated to do so? We should know soon enough.