2011-07-08 / Editorial/Opinion

Cuomo Takes The Election Low Road

Governor Andrew Cuomo had a choice between two options in filling the seats vacated by Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and Congressman Anthony Weiner, and he took the low road by declaring special elections to fill both seats rather than allowing the people to decide the candidates in a primary election and the electorate to choose the final winner in November. Filling Pheffer’s Assembly seat was far less complicated than filling Weiner’s seat. Since the election season is upon us anyway, he could have allowed for primary elections in September and then a general election in November. Instead, he chose to call a special election for primary day, September 13. By calling the special election, he allows the political parties rather than the people to choose the party candidates. Now, each of the five political parties with a ballot line will choose its candidate without any input from the electorate. Those candidates, and any others who ballot for a position, will run in September. For example, four people – Lew Simon, Geraldine Chapey, Jo Ann Shapiro and Frank Gulluscio – will choose the Democratic candidate. Two – Jane Deacy and Eric Ulrich – will choose the Republican candidate. That hardly sounds like democracy. Filling Weiner’s seat was more problematic. The U.S. Constitution says that when there is a vacancy in the House of Representatives, the seat must be filled by an election through the “writ” of the governor. Election lawyers have argued what that means for more than a century. Some believe that it means the governor must call for a special election to fill the seat. Others believe that the governor can wait until the next general election to fill the seat. In this case, we would have preferred waiting, for the same reasons that we prefer a regular election for Pheffer’s Assembly seat. Now, it seems apparent that the Democratic Party will play its political games – appointing former Representative Liz Holtzman to be the party candidate in the sure knowledge that she would be only a placeholder who would agree not to run again once the redistricting is completed and Joe Crowley takes over the new district that includes the west end of Rockaway. Cuomo should have allowed the voters to decide, rather than the politicians. It is the old political party game, and it is getting old.

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