Governor Andrew Cuomo has set a special election date of Tuesday, May 5 for the 11th Congressional District and the 43rd Assembly District.
The declaration came just three days after Brooklyn-based Judge Jack Weinstein, of federal Eastern District Court, ordered the lagging pol to get a move on replacing former Congressmember Michael Grimm, who resigned in January after pleading guilty to tax evasion.
The special election will take place concurrently with one to elect a replacement for Brooklyn Assemblymember Karim Camara, who is leaving his post to become the head of the state’s Office of Faith-Based Development Services. Camara was appointed to that post last month.
Weinstein had stressed that, should Cuomo not comply by Friday, he would set the date himself.
“The right to representation in government is the central pillar of democracy in this country,” Weinstein asserted in a written decision, adding, “Unjustified delay in filling a vacancy cannot be countenanced.”
Weinstein ruled on the issue following a lawsuit brought by Staten Island-based attorney Ronald Castorina, Jr. on behalf of the district’s voters, who, he contended in court papers, were, “Being denied their right to vote for a representative in the vacant Eleventh Congressional District of New York,” by Cuomo, who – the pleading asserted – had delayed in setting the date despite a mandate in the state constitution.
The 11th C.D. includes all of Staten Island and a swathe of southwestern Brooklyn from Bay Ridge through Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst to Gravesend.
Cuomo held off calling the date for more than a month after Grimm’s resignation, leading numerous insiders to speculate that the governor was dragging his feet in order to avoid the costs of a special election, hoping to hold the vote for a replacement for Grimm on Election Day in November.
Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan is the likely Republican nominee; two Brooklyn representatives – Assemblymember William Colton and City Councilmember Vincent Gentile – are the front-runners for the Democratic nomination after Staten Island Assemblymember Michael Cusick said he was not interested in running.