Get ready to be annoyed if you’re a voter in the 29th Congressional District that’s desperate for another Representative in Congress. Odds are you won’t get one until January and you won’t vote for one until November.
The chatter about there not being a Special Election declared in the NY-29 has been around since Rep. Massa stepped down. Only over the past week or so it’s getting quite loud and that’s for good reason. The statement from the Governor’s press officer is pasted below, my analysis follows.
"We have some serious concerns about the financial impact that a special election could have on the county level, especially because those counties are facing the same fiscal crisis that the State is facing. Furthermore, the Governor has no interest in disenfranchising military voters who are overseas, and who may not be given adequate time to vote given the short timeframe of a special election calendar. This is some of what is being considered, but no final decision has been made yet."
1) Cost: The Governor mentions cost to local counties as being a major factor being weighed in decided whether or not to schedule a special. A safe estimate on the cost is perhaps $1-2 million spread out across the 8 counties in NY-29. Surely cost is a factor but let’s get realistic about this being an “out” for not declaring a special election for a significant federal office. Waste of taxpayer dollars is something nearly everyone has a right to be upset about – but when was the last time you heard someone passionately complaining about the (relatively speaking) small amount of money spent on holding elections in a democracy?
2) Military Voters: You won’t find a journalist in these parts more supportive of our men and women serving in the military, but part of a Special Election is making arrangements for absentee ballots. Every vote does count, but realistically the amount of military absentee ballots expected in this district is not going to affect the outcome. In all honesty, I’m slightly offended that in saying he “has no interest in disenfranchising military voters” the Governor's Office is really saying something akin to “and I’ll use military voters as another excuse” to not schedule an election.
3) No Final Decision…Yet: I think you’ll see public outcry from plenty in the NY-29 and for that reason I believe the “yet” part of this statement. We’ll see how this all plays out, but I wouldn’t hold your breath for a Special Election. (The political geek trapped inside me just exhaled!)
So now the “Why?” question. Politics people. The Democrats don’t have a candidate they can rally behind. I don’t buy the “pressure from D.C.” argument because I’m not convinced that a Republican serving the NY-29 would be much different vote-wise to House Leadership than Rep. Eric Massa serving in that district. (ie: leave your Pelosi conspiracy stories here folks.) I’ll analyze the potential candidates in a separate blog, but let’s wrap this up simply.
-Democrats don’t have a candidate.
-Gov. Paterson is a Democrat.
-Gov. Paterson has no motivation to declare a Special Election in NY-29.
-Until an opposing motivation presents itself, see ya in November!
(Hint: an opposing motivation could include the sense of responsibility to fill this seat for the constituents.)