MINORITY LEADER JAMES N. TEDISCO
January 13, 2009
So They Can Choose New York's Next U.S. Senator
New York State's upcoming vacancy in the U.S. Senate
While Governor David Paterson prepares to announce the candidate he has selected to succeed Senator Hillary Clinton as New York's junior U.S. Senator, Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga), unveiled his legislation that would end the pattern of "accidental" elected officials who entered into office without having been elected by the people of New York State.
In response to the Governor, Comptroller and now a U.S. Senator coming into office through appointment, as opposed to democratic election, Tedisco has introduced legislation - Assembly Bill 1829 - which would amend the State's Public Officers Law to require Special Elections for any vacancies occurring in the office of U.S. Senator from the State of New York.
Tedisco's bill requires the Governor - within ten days - to call a Special Election within 90 days of the occurrence of the vacancy. If the vacancy were to occur less than 100 days before the annual Primary or General Election, the Special Election would then be held in concert with one of those regularly scheduled election dates.
Tedisco said that New York would not be alone in seeking to make this change. Both Minnesota and Connecticut have sought to amend their replacement process so a Special Election - not a Governor's appointment - is employed to fill a vacated Senate seat. Several other states - including Alabama, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Wisconsin - currently do not have an interim appointment process for U.S. Senate vacancies.
"Elections are the lifeblood of democracy. A continued pattern of individuals entering into high office without having been chosen by the voters needs to end, if our democracy is to mean something," Tedisco stated.
"Whether it's Caroline Kennedy, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, or someone else that Governor Paterson announces as his pick to fill Senator Clinton's Senate seat, in the eyes of many, that person will not be seen as legitimate until they stand for election in 2010," Tedisco said.
"Having the power to do something doesn't make it the right thing to do. A Special Election would provide a sense of legitimacy to whoever serves as New York's voice in the Senate. Being appointed by just one person - as opposed to being chosen by million of voters - is clearly not the same. We need an election - not a coronation - to ensure our next U.S. Senator reflects the will of the people," Tedisco concluded.