Residents of the 8th State Senate District, which stretches along the South Shore from Baldwin to Lindenhurst, do not now have a representative in the New York State Legislature’s upper chamber. This troubles some as Albany legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo negotiate this month over how the state will allocate its more than $100 billion budget.
The State Senate’s 8th District seat has been vacant since former Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr., a Merrick Republican, resigned on Dec. 31 to become CEO of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. Fuschillo announced his Senate retirement the same day that he stepped down from office.
State law grants Cuomo the power to call a special election to fill the vacancy between now and November, but so far he has not indicated publicly that he will do so. If the governor does not order a special election, the Senate’s 8th District seat will remain vacant until the general election.
Cuomo is “not going to do it,” said Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University. “If he was going to do it, he’d have done it already…He could wait until primary day, but I don't think he sees anything in it for him.”
Levy argued that Cuomo, a Democrat, would take no action because a special election in the 8th District would favor the Republican Party’s candidate. “Special elections are low turnout, and they rely heavily on the organization’s ability to get out the vote when there’s not a lot of publicity and bigger, higher-profile races on the ballot,” Levy said. “Republicans simply have a better organization in the area.”
Whether Cuomo calls a special election in the 8th District will test speculation that the governor favors Republican control of the Senate, Levy said. A thin majority of Republicans and a handful of breakaway Democrats who vote with the Republicans currently rule the Senate in an unprecedented power-sharing arrangement. An article The New York Times published last week cited anonymous senior officials in the Democratic and Republican parties who, the Times said, described a fiscally conservative governor who enjoys the support of Senate Republicans for his budget agenda.