New York Democrats Pick Nominee in 29th District

Posted April 6, 2010 at 11:40am

New York Democrats have reached a decision on an unnamed “consensus candidate” to run for the 29th district seat formerly held by Rep. Eric Massa (D).

The eight county party chairs in the district issued a statement Tuesday to announce the conclusion of their candidate search process and said their selection “will announce his/her candidacy next week.”

In their statement, the county Democratic chairs said they have “been fortunate to have many qualified candidates express interest in serving Southern Tier/Finger Lakes New York in Congress,” but the party has failed to come up with a standout recruit to replace Massa, who resigned in early March amid sexual harassment allegations.

In fact, the search process has largely been defined by the number of leading local officials who have turned down a run in the Republican-leaning district. Just last week, Assemblyman David Koon (D), the most politically experienced of six contenders being interviewed by the party chairs, withdrew from consideration for the nomination, leaving a pool of largely unknown and untested potential candidates.

Republicans have rallied behind former Corning Mayor Tom Reed, who has been in the race since last July.

In their statement, the Democratic chairs also echoed Gov. David Paterson’s (D) reservations — voiced last week — about holding a special election to fill the seat before the regularly scheduled state primaries in September.

“It’s clear that a special election would prove to be very expensive, particularly considering so many counties in the 29th district are already struggling financially. Similarly, we cannot disenfranchise military voters who are currently serving overseas; we must take appropriate steps to make sure their votes are counted,” the statement read.

Such sudden hesitation coming from the district and Albany has raised speculation that the Democratic administration will not call a special election, despite Paterson’s initial statement that he would try and fill the seat “as soon as possible.” Republicans have complained that Democrats are stalling for time while they try to nail down a competitive candidate.