Governor Andrew Cuomo picked this past Friday afternoon to announce that he had decided to call a “Special Election” for filling the vacant Brooklyn/Queens 9th Congressional seat of Anthony Weiner. This date will coincide with the previously scheduled September 13th Primary. He knew this would be a slow news day with most reporters, media outlets and voters celebrating July 4th weekend and not paying attention. This date will be too late for any open Democratic Party primary. Bronx/Queens County Congressmember and Queens Democratic Party Chairperson Joseph Crowley and his counterpart – Kings County Assemblymember and Democratic Chairperson Vito Lopez will now have the opportunity to make the decision behind closed doors and select the one and only Democratic Party candidate to appear on the ballot. Their respective loyal state committee members will quickly follow up and endorse the anointed successor. To get on the ballot without a party endorsement requires any independent candidate collecting a minimum of 3500 signatures within 12 days. A normal primary affords candidates up to 30 days. Collecting signatures during the summer is a major challenge even for clubhouse organization candidates. To avoid being knocked of the ballot by professional clubhouse election attorneys employed by both the Queens or Brooklyn Democratic Party organizations, the challenger needs to collect between 7,000 to 10,500 signatures. Clubhouse election attorneys are experts at manipulating the process by challenging signature by signature of challengers to protect incumbent or organization candidates to keep potential opponents off the ballot.
Governor Cuomo has finally come out of the closet. He previously masqueraded as an independent Albany reformer but he is really a proud product of the Queens County regular Democratic Party clubhouse machine. A real Democratic Party primary would have allowed any registered Democrat who could have obtained sufficient signatures to run in an open primary against the choice of Crowley and Lopez.
Governor Cuomo has decided that his friendship with Crowley and Lopez is more important than opening up the process beyond the traditional local and county Democratic Party clubhouse to ordinary voters. The apple, Andrew Cuomo clearly didn’t fall far from the tree, Mario Cuomo. Both Andrew and Mario are two peas in a pod whose actions mirror traditional loyalty to their common Queens County Democratic Party clubhouse machines as opposed to the people.