Rochester, NY --- Three people demanding a U.S. Congressman are suing the Governor of New York to get one. A lawsuit filed late Monday in federal court is aimed at compelling Gov. David Paterson to declare a special election in the state’s 29th Congressional District. This is the same seat Eric Massa resigned effective March 9th, nearly two months ago.
The three plaintiffs are Larry Fox of Canandaigua, Cynthia Alford of Elmira, and Carl Edwards of Limestone. Alford is in fact a registered Democrat in Chemung County; noteworthy given that many expected GOP chairmen and officials to be named as plaintiffs in this litigation.
In suing Gov. Paterson the lawsuit asks that he first declare the NY-29th seat vacant and then schedule a special election to find a replacement for former Rep. Massa.
Public Officers Law 42 states that, “the governor may in his discretion make proclamation of a special election to fill such office.”
This lawsuit argues the Constitutional rights of due process and equal protection under the law afforded to citizens in the 14th Amendment, trumps Public Officers Law. It further states that the lawsuit, “though unusual…seeks to protect democratic liberties of the highest order, specifically the right to legislative representation secured to every citizen by Article I, Section 2, Clause 4 of the Federal Constitution.”
In response to this lawsuit the Governor's Press Office issued the following statement: "The law clearly states that calling a special election is at the Governor's sole discretion. This litigation is without merit, and will hold no weight in a courtroom."
The Governor's Press Office has previously expressed concerns over disenfranchising military voters and passing on the costs of a special election to counties. Politics is likely an “unspoken” concern in the Governor’s decision-making process. Democratic Party Chairs in the NY-29th took more than a month to select a candidate to run if a special election were declared.
Currently Republican and former Corning Mayor Tom Reed is the endorsed GOP candidate. Former C.I.A. Agent and U.S. Army Officer Matt Zeller is the preferred choice of Democratic Party chairs in the NY-29th.