March 16 – New York State Senate District 13
While the political circus that is New York State government is distracted by the unfolding scandal involving Governor David Patterson, the original act in this season’s tent, the scandal, trial and removal of Senator Hiram Monserrate is heading towards an electoral conclusion. Monserrate was arrested for slashing the face of a girlfriend and was convicted of misdemeanor assault after the woman retracted her original story and stated that it had been an accident. The New York State Senate voted to expel Monserrate from the chamber.
If this was the end of the story, we wouldn’t be talking about New York politics. There will be a special election to fill the empty Senate seat in Queens and Hiram Monserrate is back in the race, claiming that he was improperly removed and therefore should be elected once again by voters. He will face Democratic Assemblyman Jose Peralta, who has been endorsed by the state Democratic party, and Republican Robert Beltrani, an Administrative Law Judge. Monserrate will have to run as an independent – assuming he has collected enough legitimate signatures to get on the ballot.
Stay tuned, this race will surely only get stranger. Republicans almost pulled off a coup – convincing Democrat Helen Sears, a former New York City Councilwoman to run as a Republican and therefore, if she won, end the Democrats narrow rule over the chamber. Currently, the Senate is 31-30 in favor of Democrats with this one vacancy. Alas for all us fans of great political theater, Sears declined after considering it for a while.