Special Elections Preview
April 18th, 2011

More than two month after Gov. Andrew Cuomo named him CEO for Homes and Community Renewal, Brooklyn Assemblymember Darryl Towns has finally submitted his letter of resignation from the legislature.

Meanwhile, on April 1, longtime Assemblymember Nettie Mayhersohn of Queens announced her resignation at age 86.

This mean residents of their districts will choose new Assembly members in a special election — though Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not yet set the date.

In Meyersohn’s district, her chief of staff, Michael Simanowitz, has expressed interest in succeeding her and stands a good chance of getting his wish.

Many special elections in New York– especially in districts where one party has an overwhelming advantage — are little more than a formality. With no primary, party leaders choose their candidate and voters have little option but to ratify that choice.

In 2007, Citizens Union (whose sister organization publishes the Wonkster) found that almost a third of sitting legislators had first won their seats in usually noncompetitive special elections and then parlayed the advantage of incumbency to hold on to the post in future years.

Interestingly, though the race to follow Towns has attracted a list of candidates, with more possibly on the way. The contest has shaped up as a showdown between two politically powerful Brooklyn clans: the Towns family, including Darryl’s dad U.S. Rep. Edolphus Towns, and the Dilans, whose members include State Sen. Martin Malave Dilan and City Councilmember Erik Martin Dilan. Possible candidates include Darryl Town’s sister Deidra Towns and the council member’s chief of staff Rafael Espinal.

Another scenario sketched out by City Hall has Erik Dilan going to the Assembly and someone in the Towns faction then getting his City Council seat. (Dilan is term limited in 2013.)

If your head is not spinning already, earlier this month the Perez Notes blog said the Towns forces might run John Rodriguez, who once worked for Dilan and who served on Brooklyn Community Board 5, in an effort to split Espinal’s likely support among Hispanics. And on Friday Politicker reported that Jesus Gonzalez, a community organizer with Make the Road New York, could also enter the race. He might win Working Family Party support.

All this jockeying might lead to a special election that’s really an election, as opposed to a coronation. One or more of the candidates spurned by the Democratic Party leadership could petition to get on the ballot as a third party candidate and take their case to the voters.

By on April 18, 2011, 2:17 pm
In category: Albany,Electoral Politics,Eye on Albany,Gotham City | Comments Off on Special Elections Preview

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