Bill, again, seeks special elections for vacancies to statewide offices

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Since 2007, vacancies in two of the top statewide posts have been filled by appointment rather than a special election.

Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, is again pushing for a new law that would make the governor call for a special election to fill the positions of comptroller, attorney general or U.S. senator.

In 2007, the state Assembly appointed their colleague Thomas DiNapoli to comptroller when disgraced Comptroller Alan Hevesi retired. In 2009, Gov. David Paterson appointed Kirsten Gillibrand as U.S. senator to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat.

“The State Comptroller, Attorney General and United States Senator are all representatives of the people of the state and as such should always be elected by the people even in cases of vacancies,” the bill states.

The bill has gone no where in the Legislature. It is set to be approved by a Senate committee today.

If you think the current law is outdated, think back to the early 1900s. Then, the state Senate appointed the state’s U.S. senator, who wasn’t even elected.

It was changed in the early 1900s, but a young state senator from Dutchess County named Franklin Roosevelt made a name for himself in in 1911 in Albany when he fought Tammany Hall’s pick for a U.S. Senate seat — a move that led to a unprecedented 74-day standoff.

And Roosevelt won, with the Senate backing James O’Gorman instead of William Sheehan.

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  1. NEW York indeed has such a law vacancies in the office of Attorney General was filled by a special election in 1917, Lieutenant Governor in 1943 and after Senator Wagner resigned in July , 1949 that November there was a special election for the remainder of his term.