Judge: Election Needed to Replace Convicted Rep. Grimm

NEW YORK (AP) -

Expressing impatience with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a judge said Tuesday he’ll set a date for a special election to replace convicted former Rep. Michael Grimm unless Cuomo does so by noon Friday.

“The right to representation in government is the central pillar of democracy in this country. Unjustified delay in filling a vacancy cannot be countenanced,” wrote U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein in Brooklyn in a written decision in response to a lawsuit brought by voters.

Weinstein said the Republican from Staten Island’s resignation Jan. 5 left 750,000 people “bereft of an advocate to help them navigate the morass of government bureaucracy,” including a voice as Congress decides whether to authorize military force against terrorists, an issue in which “men and women of the district will risk death.”

Attorneys for Cuomo told Weinstein that the governor has discretion to delay a special election until the general election in November.

After Weinstein ruled, a Cuomo spokeswoman said the governor will announce a special election shortly, but did not promise it would occur before the judge’s hearing Friday.