Gov. Andrew Cuomo today bowed to a federal judge’s order and declared a vacancy in the Staten Island and Brooklyn-based seat of former Congressman Michael Grimm—setting up for a special election on May 5.
Mr. Cuomo had resisted officially recognizing Mr. Grimm’s resignation and the vacancy it left, which would automatically trigger a vote for a new representative within 70 to 80 days. But—in response to a suit brought by a group of Staten Islanders—Eastern District Court Judge Jack Weinstein declared on Monday that governors do not have the power to leave New Yorkers without a voice in the House of Representatives without good reason, and demanded Mr. Cuomo set a date for the special election by today. If not, the judge said he would set it for him.
Mr. Cuomo criticized the decision yesterday as unnecessarily costly, but said he would obey it and set up the special to coincide with a vote to fill the seat of Brooklyn Assemblyman Karim Camara, who is stepping down to join the governor’s administration.
“From their point of view, taxes don’t matter, spend, spend, spend,” he told the Observer at an unrelated event.
“Hopefully there’s an efficiency in running two special elections for the New York City Board of Elections, but that’s what it’s going to be,” he said.
There is no geographic overlap between the two districts, and it is not clear how having both special elections concurrently will save money.
In special elections, the local party establishments pick the candidate, rather than an open primary process. Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, a Republican, is heavily favored to succeed Mr. Grimm. The Democratic Party has yet to select its contender.
Mr. Grimm stepped down last month after pleading guilty to a federal felony charge of tax evasion.