No Special Election for Eric Massa's Seat


In an unwelcome bit of news for the GOP, New York governor David Paterson has announced that he would not call a special election to fill the House seat left vacant by former Democratic Rep. Eric Massa.

Massa resigned last month amid in ethics investigation into accusations that he sexually harassed male members of his staff and subsequently acknowledged groping a staffer non-sexually.

Paterson had initially vowed to call a special election to replace Massa before the midterm elections in November. But his spokeswoman said that the embattled Democratic governor would not do so, citing the cost to taxpayers in the cash-strapped state.

"We have some serious concerns about the financial impact that a special election could have on the county level, especially because those counties are facing the same fiscal crisis that the state is facing," Maggie McKeon said in an e-mail to Gannett News Service.

Republicans saw Massa's Corning, New York-area seat as a likely GOP pickup that they hoped would have generate momentum for the party heading into the midterm elections. John McCain won the district over Barack Obama by a slim margin in 2008, and Republicans have a 46,000 edge in voter registration there, according to Hotline on Call. Massa lost in his run for the seat in 2006.

Paterson last year called two special elections. One was for the seat formerly held by Kirsten Gillibrand, who he appointed to the Senate; the other was for the seat previously held by John McHugh, now secretary of the Army. (That later election gave us the Doug Hoffman run that was seen as the first test of the Tea Party movement.)

Former Corning mayor Tom Reed, the likely Republican candidate for the seat, has pushed for a special election as soon as possible. He has suggested Democrats are preventing the election because they know they are likely to lose.

According to Gannett, Reed estimated the cost of a special election at between $700,000 and $750,000.