Anthony Weiner
Rep. Weiner's resignation has created special election timing issues. Image: Center for American Progress Action Fund/Flickr/CC BY-ND

Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) resigned Thursday in the aftermath of his “sexting” scandal. The resignation comes at a tricky time for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who is faced with some difficult choices as to how he proceeds in filling the vacated seat.

New York no stranger to scandal

Weiner resigned his congressional seat Thursday, deporting himself with poise amid much catcalling and derisive heckling. His resignation came 10 days after he admitted to sending lewd pictures of himself to several young women via Twitter. His scandal comes right on top of a similar one involving Republican Chris Lee, who was replaced by Democrat Kathy Hochul in a May special election.

A late-summer vote

A special election, under a recent New York law, can occur no less than 70 days and no more than 80 days after being called for by the governor. Under a special election, there are no primaries. Political parties can select their own candidates according to their own party rules. However, if Cuomo decides to call for the election immediately, the vote will take place in late August, when the turnout would likely be low.

Seat could be left vacant

The governor could let the seat remain vacant, in which case the vote would be part of the already-scheduled Sept. 13 city election. That would yield a greater turnout. However, there would also be a greater risk of losing the seat to another party, as happened in the case of Rep. Lee. Presumably, Cuomo would like to keep the seat Democratic.

Petitions need to be signed

“People should be out passing petitions in his district today or tomorrow,” said John Conklin of the New York Board of Elections. “Because the petition process closes on July 14.”

In addition to Democrats and Republicans, New York ballots also host candidates from the Conservative, Working Families, Independence and Green parties. Candidates for those six parties require petitions of 1,250 signatures to qualify. Other candidates require 3,000 signatures.

Boundaries could be redrawn

Another possibility is that the seat could be eliminated altogether. Two congressional seats must be eliminated as a result of the last U.S. census, but the state legislators have not yet redrawn the boundaries.


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