Alec Hamilton, Assistant Producer, WNYC News
Alec Hamilton is an Assistant Producer in the WNYC newsroom. She produces Morning Edition and starts her work day very, very early.
Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, It's A Free Country political reporter Anna Sale weighs in on the resignation of Anthony Weiner and what comes next, from special elections to redistricting battles.
What's your final Weiner thought? How do you feel about his legacy, his downfall, what comes next for his district? Let us know!
Like New York Congressional District 26, where Rep. Chris Lee sent shirtless photos of himself to a woman on Craigslist and promptly lost his job, New York’s Ninth District is facing a changing of leadership following a scandal.
Coincidentally, New York state is also currently facing its once-a-decade redistricting process and losing two congressional seats — likely one from upstate, and one from downstate. Generally the districts targeted for elimination tend to be those that are weak or were filled by a special election. The Ninth District might be the one to disappear, making the question of who might fill that seat even more interesting. Who would want a seat that may be gone in less than a year?
The governor will call the special election to determine who becomes the ninth district Representative, and when he does so is left to his discretion. The law requires seventy to eighty days notice between the time he calls for it and the election itself, so it is likely that the voting will be sometime in September.
Unlike regular elections, special elections have no primaries. Instead, nominations are done by the party chairs of the district. In Queens the Democratic Party Leader is Congressman Joe Crowley, in Brooklyn it is Assemblyman Vito Lopez, both big powerbrokers in their respective boroughs. They will likely choose different people and may be looking to find a candidate strong enough to make elimination through redistricting less of a sure thing.
According to the political scuttlebutt, the three favorites in the Democratic Party are former Councilmember Melinda Katz, Councilman Mark Weprin and Assemblyman Roy Lancman. Other possibilities include State Senator Jose Peralta, former Councilmember Eric Gioia, former Councilmember Noach Dear and former Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, cousin to Joe Crowley.
On the Republican side contenders may include Councilmember Eric Ulrich and retired television executive Bob Turner, who gave Weiner a run for his money in the last election, winning 40 percent of the vote.
A caller from Midwood questioned the necessity of a special election.
Is it absolutely necessary that the Governor order a special election? Because it seems to me extremely costly when we may be out of the running next year and they redistrict in this area… Why spend all that money now, why cant we just have a regular election in November?
It is not, in fact, necessary, but the governor will likely desire it anyway, in order to create a more controlled environment politically. The governor may, however, time the election to coincide with city elections already scheduled for September 13, in order to contain some of those costs.
A caller from Morningside Heights had a practical question.
If somebody runs in a special election and is victorious and serves in Congress just to fill out the term and then leaves, are they eligible for a congressional pension?
They do not. Members must serve a certain number of years to be eligible for a pension. While that number varies depending on the age of the member of Congress, the minimum amount is five years. That person does, however, get to be called a congressperson for the rest of their lives and get a lifetime membership to the gym.
A caller from Brooklyn pointed out the historical precedent of people learning lessons from scandal exposure and public humiliation and becoming famous leaders.
There's a story about a young British officer who was trying to impress his hire-ups...he ended up ordering his men to fire on and kill two unarmed people, and then tried to cover it up.. he was found out, and the local newspaper ran the story and made it quite public and caused him some amount of humiliation. He learned from that, and was George Washington, our first president.
Sale agreed it is possible that the world has not seen the last of Anthony Wiener. Even former Mayor Ed Koch said, by his own internal calculation, Weiner may come back politically in fifteen years. It may not be long before the ex-congressman from District Nine has his very own cable show. If historical precedent holds true, Weiner is gone, but not for long.