Gov. David Paterson on Wednesday called for a special election Nov. 2 to fill the congressional seat held by former U.S. Rep. Eric Massa, who resigned amid an investigation into whether he sexually harassed male staffers.
Massa, a Democrat, resigned in March. At the time, Paterson said he would call a special election to replace him as quickly as possible. But in a statement Wednesday, Paterson said concerns about new electronic voting machines and the cost of holding a special election had persuaded him to wait.
The 29th Congressional District, in western New York, is believed to be ripe for a Republican takeover. GOP strategists have complained that Paterson delayed the special election to boost Democratic chances of keeping the seat. State Senate Republicans see a possible GOP win in a low-turnout special election.
Massa, 50, resigned on March 8 from the House of Representatives, citing a recurrence of cancer. As allegations surfaced of sexual harassment of staffers, he admitted groping a male staffer, but he said it was non-sexual tickling.
The case is politically important as Republicans try to use the cloud of scandal surrounding Massa as a campaign issue.
The special election for Massa's seat will run concurrently with the general election.
The winner of the election will serve immediately — depending on when Congress swears him or her in — until the person elected in the general election takes over.