ALBANY—In the wake of criticism yesterday from some good government groups that the process by which David Paterson is picking a replacement for Hillary Clinton is too opaque, Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco has introduced a bill calling for the seat to be filled by a special election within 90 days of the vacancy.
"You're leaving out the most important part of the process – the people," Tedisco said. "I think it's going to be extremely difficult [to get this bill passed] but that doesn't stop us from doing what's right."
It's a gesture, in other words, and a political one at that. But it has identified a process widely viewed as being somewhat less than perfect.
Paterson himself has said he's "not 100 percent sure" he should be picking a replacement, but justifies his unilateral role in the selection process by pointing out that interim appointments are not locks in special elections, which for the senate seat would take place in 2010. In a press release, Tedisco said that whoever is appointed "will not be seen as legitimate until they stand for election in 2010."
A special election would cost millions, but Tedisco said it is justified because "you can't put a price tag on our democracy." The minority leader also noted that if Andrew Cuomo were elevated to the U.S. Senate, the only statewide official to have been elected to office would be Senator Charles Schumer.
"You're kind of moving toward a totalitarian state," Tedisco said, seriously.