So Anthony Weiner has finally resigned. What now? Well, there will be a special election, but when, no one can say. In March of last year, when upstate Rep. Eric Massa resigned in the 29th CD, then-Gov. David Paterson scheduled the required special for November (so as to coincide with the general election) — a pretty huge delay of almost nine months. Republicans went to court to try to force Paterson to call it earlier but were rebuffed. So presumably Gov. Andrew Cuomo can wait at least as long as Paterson did, but Huffington Post's Sam Stein cites a state elections official who says that if Cuomo does nothing, a special election will take place this November. (Even though it's an odd-numbered year, New York does conduct some small-bore judicial elections and the like.)
Regardless of when it's called, the most salient feature is that there won't be any primaries — something election watchers are keenly aware of, since this will be the fifth special in New York since 2009. County leaders will hand-pick their party's nominees, a process which has led to almost unthinkable levels of regret on the part of Republicans throughout the state. (Jim Tedisco, Dede Scozzafava, Jane Corwin: These are not the names of success.)
The situation on the Democratic side is particularly interesting. The 9th CD spans two counties: Queens and Kings (aka Brooklyn). But because the bulk of the seat is in the former, the Queens County chair will more or less get to pick the nominee on his own. That man happens to be Rep. Joe Crowley, whose 7th CD neighbors Weiner's 9th. With New York losing two congressional seats thanks to reapportionment, and one of those all but certain to be held by an NYC-area Dem, everyone would love to carve up Weiner's district. While Crowley was never really in any danger of having his seat eliminated (it's actually Gary Ackerman who is breathing a sigh of relief), Democrats in the area probably prefer a candidate who won't seek re-election in 2012, rather than someone who could jump into a primary against an incumbent if the 9th gets disappeared.
So Crowley needs to find someone who can win, but is unambitious enough to seek a second term. That sort of candidate could be hard to find — and if that's what Crowley insists on, it could put an already marginal seat at further risk. Apart from the Staten Island-based 13th, the 9th is the least Democratic district in the city, and it's been trending away from us. Filled with conservative white ethnics, this seat went for Al Gore by a huge 67-30 margin, but sank to 56-44 for Kerry and then 55-44 for Obama. It was also Michael Bloomberg's best district in his tight 2009 election. Though the mayor won by just four points citywide, he took the 9th by 70-26. Just look at all that red:
Assuming Democrats would still want the 9th to get blasted to smithereens, it could force them to give up an upstate Democratic seat instead. But that's not easily done. For reasons of geography, the two most junior Democrats (Bill Owens in the 23rd and just-elected Kathy Hochul in the 26th) are hard to de-district. A Louise Slaughter retirement could ease things, but despite her age (81), she doesn't look like she wants to go anywhere. Here's another possibility: Continue with the original plan of nuking Ackerman's seat (along with that of an upstate freshman GOPer), leave the 9th more or less intact, and hope to win it back in 2012.
Though the future is very cloudy, we do have a sense of who might be interested in running. On the GOP side, City Councilman Eric Ulrich has already formed a campaign committee. [UPDATE: Apparently the Ulrich committee was an unauthorized "draft" committee.] Other possibilities include state court judge (and former councilman) Noach Dear, and 2010 candidate Bob Turner, a self-funding businessman who pulled in 41% of the vote last year.
For Democrats, possible names include former city council members Eric Gioia and Melinda Katz; current councilman Mark Weprin, and state assemblymen Rory Lancman and David Weprin (brother of Mark). I'm sure others will come out of the woodwork soon. But would any of them agree to run only once? We'll keep following this entire story closely as developments unfold.
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