Friday, August 21, 2009

AD38 Special Election is On - Again by Dan Jacoby - The Daily Gotham

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When Assemblymember Anthony Seminerio resigned in disgrace, the stage was set for a very interesting election to replace him, but all hopes for a true election were dashed today when Govenor Paterson issued a proclamation for a special election to be held on September 15.

Without that proclamation, there would have been a primary on Sept. 15, followed by a general election in November. Four Democrats, including Albert Baldeo, had petitioned to be on the ballot. For the special election, however, there is no primary, and the Democratic insiders can pick their nominee. That nominee will be Mike Miller, who also has the Conservative Party line. That's right - Conservative!

Baldeo has been a thorn in the side of the Queens County Democratic machine for a few years. In 2005, he ran for City Council in a race that included a claim (unverified) that he pulled a gun on an opponent's wife. In 2006, Baldeo ran for state Senate on the Democratic line (despite the opposition of the Democratic machine) and came within several hundred votes of knocking out Serph Maltese. In 2008, he ran again, going up against Joseph Addabbo, Jr. in a primary, until he was persuaded by, among others, now-Senate Democratic Caucus Chair John Sampson, to drop out; Addabbo won that election.

In theory, someone (such as Baldeo) could still petition to get on the ballot for the special election as an independent candidate. The problem is that Baldeo apparently moved into the district sometime between Sept. 15 and Nov. 3 of last year. That means he would have satisfied the one-year residency requirement for a general election, but won't for the special, and is therefore ineligible to run.

The winner in this mess is the Queens Democratic Party. They don't have to worry about Albert Baldeo upsetting their plans, at least this year.

The losers are: Sampson, Malcolm Smith and Rep. Greg Meeks, all of whom are supporting Baldeo; DC37, which endorsed Baldeo this week; Baldeo himself (at least for now); and the voters of the 38th AD, who won't get a real opportunity to cast a meaningful vote.

There is one more loser: David Paterson. Last Friday his office issued a proclamation for a special election, only to have him retract it a few hours later. Now he issues - or reissues - another proclamation? I'm still not sure who did what, and why it all got screwed up, but if Paterson can't make a decision, stick with it, and get his office to follow his lead, what chance does he have to resurrect his sagging popularity? In addition, Paterson has now pissed off the current Senate President Pro Tempore (Smith), the presumptive Senate President Pro Tempore for next year (Sampson), a Congressman (Meeks), and most likely many others.

Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy year.