Late special elections waste resources | News, Sports, Jobs
The most recent special election for the United States House of Representatives in the southern part of New York was held on March 2, 1976.
Another is scheduled for August 23, due to the unexpected vacancy in the current Southern-Tier-and-Finger-Lakes district.
A separate special House election elsewhere in New York is also scheduled for Aug. 23.
A special election must be held because the vacation came before the July 1 deadline in New York law. If they had taken place afterwards, there would have been no special elections.
Special elections will only fill seats for the remainder of the current term.
And get this: When the current term expires, so will the current districts. On Nov. 8, voters in the new 2020 post-census precincts will elect members for a full two-year term beginning in January.
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In other words, the August 23 special election will fill seats for just over four months when Congress is barely in session, largely because it will be election time.
Given this, could it be that campaigns for the August 23 special election that are run in the usual competitive and partisan way are not the best use of resources – time, money and people?
Could it be that the political parties – especially the two main parties – would be better off devoting those resources to other projects, including the campaigns leading up to the November 8 elections?
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If so, there may be a solution: For these special elections, political parties – especially the two main parties – could consider reaching a consensus on which candidates they endorse.
Any of several people would be a good candidate. A good candidate:
¯ Would be well respected by members of all political parties, especially the two main parties.
¯ Would be, for example, a seasoned statesman, a seasoned leader in the private or public sector, or a seasoned scholar at a local college or university.
¯ Wouldn’t be someone for whom being in Congress would be a career stepping stone, and
¯ Would have no desire to seek elected office again, or to be involved in partisan politics in 2022 and possibly beyond.
With these agreements and any additional agreements that would be beneficial, and given that whoever occupies either seat is very unlikely, for four months in office, to affect the balance of power in the House, the political party affiliation of an ideal candidate should not matter. But if it’s somehow “necessary,” so maybe the political parties could endorse a Democrat in one district and a Republican in the other.
This is perhaps a unique opportunity for political parties, especially the two major parties, to come together. It could well be for their own good and, more importantly, for the greater good.
Some in partisan politics will take the “Political party affiliation shouldn’t matter” points like heresy.
Certainly, it deviates from the usual approach. But it doesn’t hurt here. In fact, if there ever was a time to not let the political affiliations of congressional candidates matter, then maybe now is the time.
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Could other considerations oppose it? You bet they could, and may well.
¯ One could be political parties, especially major parties, perceiving that victories on August 23 could build momentum for November 8.
¯ Another might be that Democrats — knowing the odds are stacked against them in November — will want momentum.
¯ Yet another could be that Republicans will want momentum to avoid snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in November.
While all three of these, on some level, are understandable and have some merit, is that merit outweighed by the benefit of not – not – having to devote resources to gaining four months “terms”?
If so, and if one major party is not doing the right thing, should the other do it anyway?
Whatever the answer, isn’t it worth thinking about?
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In any event, for years to come, we should change the July 1 deadline in New York law to a significantly earlier date.
The July 1 deadline is too late.
Well, way too late.
Holding special elections so late is a waste of resources.
Randy Elf is a resident of Chautauqua County.
COPYRIGHT c 2022 BY RANDY ELF