Albany/Rochester, NY --- It's looking less likely there will be a special election in New York's 29th Congressional District. Days after the sudden resignation of Rep. Eric Massa it was Governor David Paterson who said he hoped to schedule an election "as soon as possible."
Three weeks later, the governor's tune has changed and many suspect politics is the reason.
In a statement released Wednesday, Gov. Paterson's press officer Maggie McKeon said, "We have some serious concerns about the financial impact that a special election could have on the county level...the governor has no interest in disenfranchising military voters who are overseas...(and) this is some of what is being considered, but no final decision has been made yet."
Each are valid reasons, but with Republican Tom Reed of Corning waiting for an opponent, many wonder if passing on a special election is nothing more than political strategy.
"Oh, I believe so,” Assemblyman Bill Reilich, the Chairman of the Monroe County GOP said. “If they (Democrats) had a strong candidate, they'd be holding an election as soon as possible. There's no doubt about it. I think they're having difficulty finding a candidate."
Assemblyman Joe Morelle, Chairman of the Monroe County Democratic Party, is one of eight party chairs in the 29th Congressional District in charge of nominating a candidate for a special election.
"We've got two or three really high quality candidates, and we'll just see who emerges," Morelle said. He added that logistics are just one challenge to suddenly fielding a congressional candidate. Money is another. "Because people weren't expecting this, the ability to raise the necessary dollars to run a Congressional race is much more of a challenge than it might be otherwise."
Another challenge is winning in a district where registered Republicans significantly outnumber registered Democrats (175,000 to 130,000)
"I think they (Democrats) realize that they don't want to any more Republicans in Washington,” Chairman Reilich speculated. “Although the people of the 29th certainly want that."
The process for the governor is a relatively simple one. By law, the moment he declares the Congressional seat vacant a special election is scheduled within 30 to 40 days. Republican Tom Reed in a statement Wednesday called on Governor Paterson to put politics aside and declare the special election immediately.