Now that Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9) has officially resigned his position, the subject of who replaces him takes center stage. New York election laws and redistricting, however, makes finding a new 9th district congressman unusually difficult for the Democrats. As we detailed last week, the Empire State allows the political parties to self-determine their special election nominees without a vote of the people. Because the local political party chairmen are powerful, who wins the nomination is determined by just a handful of people. In this particular instance, one person, US Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY-7), who doubles as the Queens County Democratic Party chairman, has the power to choose a new candidate because almost three-quarters of Weiner’s constituents hail from Queens.
But, the congressman has a problem. Because the national reapportionment formula dictates that New York loses two federal districts for the next decade, a pair of seats, probably one in New York City and another in upstate New York, will be collapsed. Crowley would like to see the 9th broken apart because he wants much of its Queens territory for his own 7th district. This would allow his Bronx area, which is becoming increasingly more Hispanic, to go to other seats. Thus, Mr. Crowley wants a person who will serve only the final year of Weiner’s term and not seek re-election in 2012.
Such a person is difficult to find, especially since the Republicans are likely to contest the special election. One name is popping up of an individual who could easily win the seat and might not want to serve more than a year: Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin. Having her as the congressional nominee seems to play into Crowley’s succession plan, and it’s pretty obvious that such a strategy would work for the party, but would it for Ms. Abedin? We will soon find out.
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