New York lawmakers on Tuesday began the task of selecting the state’s next attorney general, hours after two-term Democrat Eric Schneiderman’s stunning downfall.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said after a closed-door meeting with fellow Democrats who control the chamber that they discussed the protocols of appointing a successor to Schneiderman, but haven’t talked about specific candidates.
The state’s solicitor general, Barbara Underwood, will serve as acting attorney general until the Legislature appoints a successor to fill out the last eight months of Schneiderman’s second four-year term.
Heastie said the law states that when a vacancy happens during the legislative session, “the Legislature shall act.” The replacement will be chosen with a joint vote by the Senate and Assembly.
But exactly when that happens remained up in the air, with Heastie saying he would talk to Senate Leader John Flanagan, a Long Island Republican, about the next step.
“I think it should be a deliberate process,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “This is a very important position and this is a highly charged situation.”
Since Democrats hold the overall majority of the 213 total seats, the temporary replacement likely will be a Democrat.
Schneiderman’s permanent replacement will be chosen in a November election. The state Democratic convention is in two weeks on Long Island, followed by the primary Sept. 13
Among the names being floated as potential candidates to replace Schneiderman is Rep. Kathleen Rice, a former prosecutor on Long Island who currently represents the area in Congress.