2011-06-24 / Community

Filling Weiner's Seat - If There Is One To Fill

By Howard Schwach


Weiner at his the news conference in which he announced his resignation from the House of Representatives in the wake of a sex-based texting scandal. Weiner at his the news conference in which he announced his resignation from the House of Representatives in the wake of a sex-based texting scandal. “When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.” – Article I, Section 2, Clause 4 of the U.S. Constitution

Now that former Congressman Anthony Weiner has turned in his resignation letter to the Speaker of the House, the west end of Rockaway no longer has a representative in the House of Representatives.

And, if insiders and published reports are to be believed, the 9th Congressional District (our district), which Weiner represented before his sexual texting scandal forced him to resign on Thursday, June 16, may well disappear, a victim of the redistricting process triggered by the 2010 Census.

While the Constitution does not mandate a method by which vacancies in the Senate are to be handled, vacancies can be filled almost immediately by the governor of the former senator‘s state.

The laws of some states require the governor to call a special election to replace U.S. Senators. New York State is not one of them.

In some cases, the governor will appoint one of the state’s current U.S. representatives in the House to fill the vacant Senate seat, thus creating a vacancy in the House. Vacancies in Congress also occur when a member runs for and is elected to some other political office before his or her term is over.

Vacancies in the House, however, take far longer to fill. The Constitution requires that a member of the House be replaced only by an election held in the congressional district of the former representative.

According to the Constitution, the governor of New York must call for a special election to replace the vacant House seat.

The full election-cycle must be followed including political party nominating processes, primary elections and a general election, all held in the congressional district involved. The entire process often takes as long as from three to six months.

While a House seat is vacant, the office of the former representative remains open, its staff operating under the supervision of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. The people of the affected congressional district do not have voting representation in the House during the vacancy period. They can, however, continue to contact the former representative’s interim office for assistance with a limited range of services.

If the insiders are right, whoever wins the special election to fill Weiner’s seat will most likely be able to call him or herself a member of Congress for only a little more than a year. At that time, the redistricting plan will kick in and, most likely, there will not be a district to represent.

The office holder, of course, could challenge whomever is redistricted into the Rockaway seat, but it is highly unlikely that a neophyte would take on a sitting Representative.

According to election officials, the special election could be held as early as August or as late as Election Day in November, at the whim of the Governor.

Whoever wins the election would fill out the remainder of Weiner’s term, which ends in 2012.

A myriad of names of those interested in the seat have already surfaced, including Melinda Katz, Rory Lachman and Mark Weprin. Others mentioned are Noach Dear and Eric Gioia. Elizabeth Crowley might also be in the race, although the insider betting is that her cousin, Joseph Crowley, who now represents another district, will be the one to pick up the Rockaway portion of Weiner’s district in the redistricting process.

Republican hopefuls reportedly include former candidate Bob Turner, who lost to Weiner in the last election and City Councilman Eric Ulrich.

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