Diary

NY Headed for Special Election?

Roll Call reports on the widely-anticipated announcement of Representative Kirsten Gillibrand’s elevation to the Senate, and the special election that is likely to follow. This looks like an excellent opportunity for a Republican pickup — as the district is reported to have a Republican advantage of roughly 3 points:

According to several political sources in upstate New York, state Sen. Betty Little (R) has begun talking to local GOP leaders about making the race.

But the Republicans could have an abundance of candidates, including Sandy Treadwell, a wealthy former New York GOP chairman who took 38 percent of the vote against Gillibrand in November. Treadwell spent almost $6 million of his own money on the race last year, and his personal wealth could give him an edge in a special election.

Former state Assembly Minority Leader John Faso (R), who was almost elected state comptroller in 2002 and was clobbered as the GOP nominee for governor in 2006, has been contemplating a political comeback and may see a race for Gillibrand’s seat as a way back in the political game.

Also mentioned is state Sen. Steven Saland (R). State legislators like Saland and Little would not have to sacrifice their seats to run in a special election.

The list of obvious potential Democratic contenders for the seat is shorter, though state Assemblyman Tim Gordon has been mentioned. Gordon, a member of the Independence Party, was elected to a GOP-leaning seat in 2006 with the support of Democrats. While he lives just outside of the 20th district, his legislative district overlaps with portions of the 20th.

It is also possible that some of the Democrats who were primary runners-up to now-Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) in the adjoining 21st district may try their luck in the 20th. Tracey Brooks, the ambitious former Clinton Senate aide who finished second to Tonko in the primary and is close to Gillibrand’s political team, is certain to be mentioned.

Another long-shot possibility for the Democrats is former star New York Rangers goalie Mike Richter, who owns a home in the Adirondack Mountains. Richter has pondered running for Congress in Connecticut during the past few election cycles.

I note that Roll Call fails to mention the possibility that Assembly Republican Leader Jim Tedisco will run. There are already reports that Tedisco is making calls to gauge support. What do we think of Little, Faso, Tedisco, Treadwell, et al? Feedback is welcome in the comment section.

Another thing to watch for in any special election is the extent to which it smokes out possible Republican candidates for 2010. If Peter King, Rick Lazio, and potentially Rudy Giuliani have an interest in seeking statewide office in the next cycle, expect them to work for the Republican candidate in New York’s 20th district.