Coup in Review: Paterson Wants Self-Replacement to Run Senate, Cuomo Says No


Governor Paterson, assemblyman Michael Gianaris, and a bunch of good-government groups had a marvelous idea for breaking the Albany Coup 31-31 state senate voting deadlock: just have Paterson appoint a new Lieutenant Governor to replace the vacancy left by Paterson’s own ascension to the Governor’s office, and that person would provide the swing vote. And they sent up trial balloons to that effect. Unfortunately the chief legal officer in the state, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, says it’s unconstitutional. He cites 4 § 1 and 4 § 6 of the State Constitution, which stipulate that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor shall be elected at the same time and a LG vacancy can only be filled by an election concurrent with a gubernatorial election or, in the senate, by the president pro tempore (Smith or Espada, depending on how you look at it). There’s a more detailed legal consideration here that seems to offer some room for argument, but it may be hard to convince a judge to overrule the AG. Common Cause New York, the Citizens’ Union, and the Brennan Center were among the groups that supported the proposal. So, back to Plan A: tergiversation and prevarication.