A federal judge has ruled that Governor Andrew Cuomo has until Friday to call for an election to fill the vacant 11th congressional district seat in Congress that was formerly occupied by Michael Grimm. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
A federal judge is giving Governor Andrew Cuomo a hard deadline: either call a special election in the 11th Congressional District by noon Friday or come to a court hearing and explain why he hasn't.
The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit.
"I'm very hopeful at this point that the governor heeds the warning of the judge and issues the proclamation of election immediately so as to avoid any embarrassment," said Ronald Castorina Jr., attorney for the plaintiffs.
In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Jack Weinstein said, "The right to representation in government is the central pillar of democracy in this country. Unjustified delay in filling this vacancy cannot be countenanced."
The governor has the sole authority to call a special election, but has been reluctant to do so.
There are also two bills in the Assembly that would force the governor to take action.
"Well specifically, for state races, it would be between 45 and 90 days from when the vacancy is actually happening, and on the federal level, it would require the governor to declare a vacancy within 30 days," said Assemblyman Joe Borelli of Staten Island.
The governor has even more discretion with races in the state legislature, where he opted just last year not to call a special election for several vacancies.
"It was criminal for the governor to keep 12 districts shut down, over 1.5 million people," said Assemblyman Charles Barron of Brooklyn. "We were not involved in the budget process last February."
"I think there is a concern when you have vacancies because you do have communities that aren't represented," said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. "But again, that's something we would have to discuss in the conference if that's a bill thatwe want to move."
For the congressional seat on Staten Island, the judge said he will impose a date if Cuomo fails to call for a special election.
In response, a spokeswoman for the governor said, "The Governor will announce the date for the Special Election for New York’s 11th Congressional District shortly."
Already, the race to succeed former Rep. Michael Grimm him is underway, with Republicans selecting Staten Island District attorney Dan Donovan as their candidate and Democrats promising to pick someone soon.