New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Friday that the special election to replace ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) will be held on Sept. 13, the day of local primaries in the Empire State.
Under New York state law there will be no primaries to determine party nominees in the Queens and Brooklyn seat, but rather, the chairmen of the local county parties will appoint their respective candidates. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) is the chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party and will appoint the Democratic candidate.
A well-placed New York Democratic source said Crowley will likely decide on a nominee within a week, and he is widely believed to be looking for a placeholder who would not seek election in 2012.
Contenders for the Democratic nomination include city Councilman Mark Weprin, state Assembly David Weprin, former Councilman Eric Gioia, former Councilwoman Melinda Katz and Lynn Schulman, who ran for a council seat in 2009.
As Roll Call reported earlier this month, Crowley hopes to claim a portion of Weiner’s former district in the decennial redistricting process in order to shore up his future re-election prospects.
“I think Congressman Crowley has always been vulnerable to a significant challenge from the part of his district that goes into the Bronx,” Democratic consultant Basil Smikle said. “He would love to be able to — if not come out of the Bronx altogether — at least be able to bring in some white ethnic votes, to fight off any potential challenger from the Bronx.”
It appears likely Crowley would want the more liberal Queens part of the district. Fifty-seven percent of voters in the Brooklyn section of the 9th pulled the lever for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential election.
Crowley’s desire to move portions of the 9th district into his own district, coupled with the fact that the reapportionment process allotted New York state two fewer districts this decade, makes picking a placeholder candidate seem likely. Another consideration: someone who won’t create another Weiner-like situation. One Democratic strategist noted that it would be important for Crowley to appoint someone who had been thoroughly vetted — a candidate who was “impeccably clean.”
Along with businessman Bob Turner (R), who lost to Weiner in 2010, one potential Republican contender for the seat is city Councilman Eric Ulrich.
But Republicans face a very steep climb in winning the heavily Democratic district.
“I think a Republican going into this seat in a special election will get his head handed to him, because there’s nothing else going on politically,” said a longtime New York Republican operative, noting that the Democratic base, including significant union involvement, would likely come out in full force for the special.
Weiner resigned last month after his illicit online communications with at least six women came to light and Democratic leaders demanded he step down.
The New York special is now slated to be held the same day as the special election in Nevada’s 2nd district, which will fill the seat vacated by now-Sen. Dean Heller (R).