Can't Anyone in This State Get Elected?
Now that New York Governor David Paterson has appointed Kirsten Gillibrand to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, here’s a strange fact to consider:
There are six positions in New York State for which statewide elections are held: governor, lieutenant governor, the two U.S. senators, attorney general, and comptroller. But at the moment, only two of the six officeholders were actually elected to their positions.
1. Gov. Paterson was elevated to his position 10 months ago from lieutenant governor when the sitting governor, Eliot Spitzer, resigned in a call-girl scandal.
2. As for lieutenant governor: the website http://www.ny.gov/ltgov/still lists Paterson as that officeholder; there is actually no lieutenant governor at the moment.
3. Sen. Chuck Schumer was elected, and re-elected, to his seat.
4. Incoming Sen. Gillibrand, as noted above, was just appointed by the unelected (as governor) Paterson.
5. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo was elected.
6. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli was appointed to his seat after the previous comptroller, Alan Hevesi, resigned just weeks after his own re-election because of a felony plea for having a state employee chauffeur Hevesi’s wife.
With so many opportunities for high-level appointments — well, you can fill in your own Blagojevich jokes here. Suffice it to say that the next time some cranky writer/economist guys wonder why people bother to vote, let’s recall that only 33 percent of New York State’s elected officials were actually elected.
Meanwhile, Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin plans to introduce a constitutional amendment this week to stop governors from appointing U.S. Senators. I wonder which way Gillibrand will vote.