Gov. David Paterson was right to cancel sham special election in Queens

Tuesday, August 11th 2009, 4:00 AM

Tuesday's Editorials

Embarrassing as it was for Gov. Paterson to call a special election in Queens' 38th Assembly District - then, hours later, cancel it - he ended up right. Voters should choose a representative through a full-fledged, open primary election, not a party-rigged sham. Especially after what they've been through.

Residents of the 38th – covering Ridgewood, Glendale, Woodhaven and Ozone Park - were long represented by  Tony Seminerio. In classic Albany form, he pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges in June and left office. The primary to replace him was set for Sept. 15, and several Democratic candidates had already submitted papers to run.

Then, out of nowhere last Friday, Paterson called a special election, on the cockamamie theory that the district couldn't wait until January to have a new Assembly member sworn in. That move would have nixed the primary and instead let Democratic Party bosses install a successor to Seminerio, i.e., handpick a tool.

Paterson realized his error. A few hours after authorizing the special election, aides said their boss hadn't made up his mind yet after all.

Stick with your second instinct, governor. Let the voters choose.

Reprinted from the The Daily News

Governor backtracks on special election for Seminerio’s seat

By Howard Koplowitz
Friday, August 7, 2009 5:33 PM EDT


Hours after announcing a special election to fill disgraced former Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio’s (D-Richmond Hill) seat, Gov. David Paterson reversed himself, saying “no final decision has been made.”

At 12:16 p.m., Paterson’s office sent out a news release saying he had called a special election for Sept. 15, Primary Day, to fill the seat.

But less than four hours later, at 3:56 p.m., Paterson said the release “has been recalled.”

“No final decision has been made at this time with respect to a Special Election in the 38th District,” Paterson spokeswoman Marissa Shorenstein said in the new statement.

Seminerio pleaded guilty in June to corruption charges, causing a vacancy. He admitted to taking roughly $1 million in illegal payments, including $390,000 from Jamaica Hospital and its Medicaid-managed health care plan.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext.




Goo-Goos To Paterson : Don't Call 38th AD Special Election

The Dailynews Blog: Elizabeth Benjamin
August 4, 2009

Four good government groups have joined the call for Gov. David Paterson to abandon his plans to hold a special election to fill the 38th AD seat vacated by former Assemblyman Tony Seminerio.

NYPIRG, Citizens Union, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause/NY sent a letter to Paterson last week voicing opposition to a special, noting that to call one would enable Democratic Party leaders to all but hand-pick Seminero's successor.

The groups also oppose holding a special - should one occur - on the same day as the September primary, arguing that turnout in primary elections is "a fraction" of that in general elections.

"In the last New York City Mayoral Election in 2005, more than twice as many voters turned out on General Election Day than on Primary Election Day - which represented over 1.3 million voters on Election Day and only 479,000 voters on Primary Day," the goo-goos wrote.

"Moreover, holding a special election on Primary Day may confuse the electorate - independent voters living in AD 38 may not even know that they can go to the polls."

"We are sympathetic to the argument that AD 38 has been unrepresented since the resignation of Assemblyman Seminerio. It is our belief, however, that it is best for the special election to be held on the fall General Election date, when there will likely be a larger turnout and less voter confusion."

"For all of the foregoing reasons, we urge you to call for a special election for AD 38 on the General Election Day."

The goo-goos' letter (which cites the DP in its footnotes - thanks!) notes that a number of candidates have successfully petitioned their way onto the 38th AD ballot.

But if the governor goes through with his plan to call a special election, all their petition-gathering would be for naught, since the four district leaders (including Seminerio himself) would get to decide who runs on the Democratic line, making that person a near-sure thing in the Democrat-dominated district.

One of those candidates, Al Baldeo, has said it would "abridge the democratic process" if Paterson calls a special.

  AlbertBaldeo.Com © 2005