Governor Kathy Hochul is pushing state lawmakers to change the state’s election law and allow candidates on the ballot to be removed as she searches for a replacement to her former lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin.
Spectrum News reports the effort to change the law included a phone call to at least one of the Democratic leaders in the Legislature, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who has been ambivalent about making the change with only weeks to go before early voting begins in the Democratic primary.
Hochul is calling for the law after the resignation of Benjamin from the lieutenant governor’s office following his indictment on five counts of felony corruption charges. Currently, a candidate for office after accepting a nomination cannot be removed from the ballot unless there are narrow circumstances, such as leaving the state or dying.
Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Hochul indicated Benjamin is unlikely to leave the state. The governor acknowledged the time line for replacing Benjamin is constrained by the political calendar.
Early voting begins June 18 and absentee ballots must be printed and mailed in the coming weeks.
State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, a Democrat from Westchester County, has indicated she will introduce a bill that would allow for the removal of candidates facing criminal charges or a terminal illness. The measure could gain a floor vote in her chamber.
But Democratic lawmakers who control the state Senate and Assembly have been hesitant to support making changes to the election law ahead of the primary vote.
Benjamin has suspended his campaign. Activist Ana Maria Archila, the preferred running mate of New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and former New York City Councilwoman Diana Reyna, running with Representative Tom Suozzi, are competing for the nomination.