More than two weeks from the date Kirsten Gillibrand was sworn into the U.S. Senate, Gov. David Paterson has announced a likely date when her former constituents will have a chance to pick her replacement: Tuesday, March 31, when James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, will face off against Scott Murphy, D-Glens Falls.
Paterson's Wednesday, Feb. 11, announcement was not a formal proclamation. He said that will come Monday, Feb. 23. State law requires a proclamation 30 to 40 days from the date of the vote. At that point, the parties' candidates can get their names set on the ballot and independent hopefuls can start collecting signatures.
The announcement comes after much ballyhooing from Republicans about Paterson's sluggish response. Tedisco, the National Republican Congressional Committee, Young Republicans and the Republican National Committee have all made statements calling on Paterson to call the race immediately, arguing that the 20th Congressional District should have a new leader as soon as possible.
I am thankful that Gov. Paterson toady announced March 31 as the special election date for the 20th Congressional District, and finally ended 'no taxation without representation' for this district, which has gone without a voice in Congress for too long, Tedisco said in a statement.
Murphy could not be reached for comment.
A springtime election from Paterson may work to the advantage of his fellow Democrat, who must work to win over voters in the overwhelmingly Republican district. That's especially true considering that the sway of independent voters is historically a lesser factor in special elections.
"Generally, in special elections you have a lower turnout that you would in the general election, and that may work to the advantage of the Republicans," said SUNY Albany professor of political science Joe Zimmerman.
With the district's 196,118 Republicans outnumbering the 125,486 Democrats, having more of the 118,364 unaffiliated voters stay at home works to the GOP's advantage. And if those who do show don't know Murphy's name, it creates an even greater disparity.