Cuomo Not Eager to Call Special Elections

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in no hurry to call special elections to fill the 11 empty seats in the state

Four of the five vacant seats in New York City are in central and eastern Brooklyn.
Four of the vacant seats are in central and eastern Brooklyn.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in no hurry to call special elections to fill the 11 empty seats in the state legislature.

Speaking on the radio this morning, Mr. Cuomo panned the idea of filling the seats quickly. Notably, he said, with this week’s corruption conviction of then-Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, he didn’t know how many more seats would still open up. (Two sitting senators have been indicted on corruption charges; a conviction results in expulsion from the chamber.)

“We’re looking at that now. You know it seems like every week there’s another open seat, given the travails of our friends in the legislature,” he told The Capitol Pressroom‘s Susan Arbetter with a laugh. “I would like to know on a practical level how many more shoes are going to drop here and how many people are going to be leaving office.”

Mr. Cuomo also labeled the special elections “very expensive.”

“And if you have to do special elections, they’re very expensive to do. Basically, you have to run a separate election obviously. So it’s not something you want to do lightly,” he said. “And I would like to know what the legal effects are.”

Some pols have asked Mr. Cuomo to schedule the elections, noting that more than 1 million New Yorkers lack representation in one of the state legislative chambers. Just today, Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver released a statement calling for the elections to be held.

“There are 11 open seats in the New York State Assembly and Senate, which means more than 1 million citizens lack representation—many in underserved communities that desperately need a strong voice,” Mr. Silver said. “We have many important issues to consider, and a strong democracy demands that New York conduct special elections as soon as possible in order to fill these seats.”

In addition to being held sooner, special elections could also have a significant impact on who ultimately represents the seats. Unlike in regularly scheduled races, there is no primary in a special election, and insiders handpick the parties’ nominees—a process criticized by good-government groups and reformers. In heavily Democratic districts that dominate New York City, the nomination is tantamount to a victory.

Mr. Cuomo previously hedged on this issue last November.

Cuomo Not Eager to Call Special Elections