The Special

Based on our recent experience in NY-23, here are some facts to keep in mind:

  • There's no primary before a special election. Candidates are picked by the party apparatus.
  • Party chairs tend to do a poor job picking candidates: Dede Scozzafava being a recent example.
  • John McHugh announced his resignation June 2, and his resignation was effective at the end of September. The NY-23 election was held in November, to coincide with the regularly scheduled election. That's four months of campaigning.
  • Given all that, some speculation:

  • Reed has been endorsed by party chairs. He's the prohibitive favorite for the Republican nod.
  • Who knows what Dems will do. Massa is extremely influential in Tier politics. Even though he's resigning in disgrace, he's still an effective politician and may be able to convince party chairs that his pick, Shawn Hogan, has the best chance of winning.
  • National party organizations and the press give these elections a lot of attention. That's especially true in this cycle, when everyone's expecting Democrats to lose seats, but nobody knows how many. The NRCC and DCCC are going to spend big, and there will be a lot of national media attention.
  • At this moment, the DCCC has significantly more cash on hand than the NRCC. But the NRCC has to spend big, since they now have a good chance to win the seat. At the minimum, the DCCC will send enough to signal serious intent to the NRCC, because it's in the DCCC's interest for the NRCC to blow a wad on this election.
  • If Massa resigns effective Monday, waiting until the next scheduled election (the September 14 primary) would entail over six months of vacancy. I can't see that happening.
  • Paterson is probably on the road to resignation himself. This clouds the whole picture of timing of the special. He might announce the schedule immediately, or he might leave it to his successor.


Paterson could see this as pay back time - to help a friend or to hurt an enemy

Ironically, and I'm just the age to remember this, the previous Democrat who (amazingly) won and went on to win the Southern Tier seat, was elected in a special election! Then Republican Rep. Jim Hastings resigned, something about wire and mail fraud?, and this was in the mid-70s at the height of Watergate. Stan Lundine, then well-respected Mayor of Jamestown, got into the special and the GOP nominated a D.C. insider, Jack Calkins. There was such remarkable anti-Washington/Republican fervor throughout the populace that, on that special election day, when it boiled down to a choice between just two candidates for a single office, the Dems prevailed. And Stan went on to be re-eleccted several times and then serve as Lt. Governor. What makes Massa one for the history books is that, to my knowledge, he is the very first--or at least in a century or so--Democrat to have been elected over a Republican in that district during a general Congressional election. And one during a Presidential year to boot! The man is absolutely amazing. And that is what further adds to the almost Shakespearan nature of this. How ironic, too, that--as Elmer says--embattled David Paterson at least can influence things here. I think that Shawn Hogan has always treated him with respect. If there is a special election called, and it is tied to nothing else other than a GOTV effort, Shawn honestly could stand a chance--a good chance--of taking this. It's up to the Monroe Republicans, I suppose. Insist on one of their own, such as Ms. Brooks, and sweep aside Tom Reed...only to wait for a heavy payback from an outraged Southern Tier on Election Day. Man oh man......what a drama.

Elmer - I don't know if Paterson has any of either (friends or enemies) in the area. His pain is all coming from NYC, not WNY. I think his Gillibrand appointment was actually pretty good politics and didn't have much (obvious) payback to Paterson. I think he'll probably do the right thing.

Prattsburgh -- that's some interesting history. I agree that a special election changes a lot of the odds on this. They're hard to predict, and very dynamic.