The Other Scramble: Who Follows Hillary’s Successor?

ALBANY—As we all think about the true horse race for Hillary Clinton’s senate seat, most of the criteria have been mentioned: race, gender, geography, how they would deal with Chuck Schumer and how their appointment could benefit David Paterson.

One factor that has been discussed less frequently is the following: if an elected official is plucked from a post to fill the Clinton seat, who will then fill his or her spot? Who, in other words, succeeds the successor?

According to Goldfeder’s Modern Election Law, elected legislative seats would be filled by special election. But since there’s no time for a primary, the party bosses in a particular area pick their nominees, which in Democratic bastions is akin to deciding the election. So David Paterson could be throwing a bone to the county chair(s) of his choosing.

More intriguing is what happens if the appointee holds a statewide elected office, like Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is on most speculative lists and trounces others in a statewide voters poll. Under that scenario, the entire state legislature appoints a successor, as was the case with Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in 2007.

Since Assembly Democrats make up 109 of the 212 total votes, that’s quite a bone to Speaker Sheldon Silver.

The Other Scramble: Who Follows Hillary’s Successor?