Feb. 13, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Republicans Line Up for Lee Seat

File Photo
Eyes have already shifted to the special election for former Rep. Chris Lee's seat.

New York Republicans are shrugging off Wednesday night’s embarrassing and abrupt resignation of Rep. Chris Lee (R) and eagerly eyeing a special election.

Less than 24 hours after Lee resigned amid scandal, the New York GOP likes its chances.

“We are fortunate to have an energized Republican Party and a deep bench of potential candidates in Western New York,” state GOP Chairman Ed Cox said Thursday. “I am confident that a very strong and qualified candidate will be selected to run who will continue to ensure that the people of the 26th district are represented in the Republican majority in the House of Representatives in Washington.” 

New York election law gives Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) wide latitude in deciding whether and when to call a special election in the Republican-leaning district, which now becomes a likely target for elimination through the reapportionment process. New York is slated to lose two Congressional seats in the coming months.

A special election would be held within 30 days of Cuomo formally declaring a vacancy. Former Gov. David Paterson (D) showed a willingness to delay the process for political and practical reasons in the past.

Republicans have already begun to rally around Assemblywoman Jane Corwin. Recent GOP gubernatorial candidate and tea party favorite Carl Paladino has already ruled out a run and thrown his support behind Corwin, according to a Buffalo television station.

Corwin was first elected to the Legislature in 2008 and represents parts of Niagara and Erie counties in the western portion of the district. She will make a formal decision “in a couple of days,” according to a statement released Thursday afternoon.

“Because the stakes are so high for area taxpayers, I will be discussing a possible Congressional campaign with my family and Republican leaders throughout the 26th Congressional District and will have a decision in a couple of days,” she said. “I know that with a Special Election looming in weeks, time is of the essence. Should I decide to run for Congress, I can assure all concerned that my campaign would have the resources to win and keep this seat in Republican hands.”

The party nominees will be chosen by a weighted vote of county party leaders instead of a primary. The 26th district includes all or parts of Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Monroe, and Livingston counties.

To say Lee’s fall was sudden is an understatement. On Wednesday afternoon, the website Gawker posted an alleged e-mail exchange between a man who used Lee’s name but identified himself as a divorced lobbyist. Gawker also posted a shirtless image of the Congressman that was allegedly included in the exchange. 

Lee, who is married, formally resigned by 6 p.m. 

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