Last month, New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin (D) was arrested on multiple charges, including bribery, over an alleged plot to get campaign contributions in exchange for a state grant. Benjamin had been appointed lieutenant governor last year by Governor Kathy Hochul, who ascended to the governorship following Andrew Cuomo’s resignation due to multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.
Ahh, New York.
Benjamin’s arrest was, of course, problematic, because existing state law made it difficult to take him off the ballot, meaning it was possible that Benjamin could have been made the Democrat nominee for lieutenant governor in June’s primaries.
This was a huge problem. A recent poll found Hochul’s reelection in the blue state is not a done deal. In fact, she’s in a dead heat with her potential Republican opponent, Rep. Lee Zeldin. Last month, an internal campaign poll conducted by John McLaughlin & Associates found Zeldin leading Hochul 45.5% to 44%.
Republicans have gained the advantage on several critical issues, and Biden’s poor polling in the state is also dragging Hochul down. Not needing Benjamin’s corruption and legal problems to give her ticket more problems, Hochul, with the help of the Democrat-controlled state legislature, changed election law in New York to enable Benjamin to be removed from the ballot, and relieve her of being held accountable for picking such a sleezy and corrupt running mate.
The bill, Senate Bill S8949, which Hochul signed on Monday, allows a candidate to remove himself from the ballot if he’s been arrested, charged with, or convicted of a crime.
Benjamin, who maintains his innocence, quickly signed the necessary paperwork to remove himself from the ballot, and Hochul has since named her new running mate, Representative Antonio Delgado.
“It’s amazing how Democrats move at lightning speed when it comes to covering up their corruption, yet New Yorkers are perpetually trapped in a crime-riddled, economically depressed state,” New York GOP chairman Nick Langworthy said in a statement. “All Democrats do is replace the names and faces of their disgraced politicians but the policies never change. Antonio Delgado is just another radical leftist who wants to dismantle our criminal justice system and make New York a socialist state. This will be a temporary job for him when we stop this insanity by electing a Republican governor who will save our state.”
The move in New York is eerily reminiscent of how Democrats in Massachusetts tinkered with election laws in the past. Back in 2004, Mitt Romney was governor of the state and then-Sen. John Kerry was the Democratic nominee for president. At the time, Massachusetts law dictated that the governor could fill the vacancy left by John Kerry in the Senate had he won the election. So, the veto-proof Democratic majority in the state legislature changed the laws to prevent that from happening.
Kerry lost his presidential bid, but the rule change endured until it was changed in 2009 to allow then-Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, the power to appoint a temporary senator to fill the vacancy until a special election could be held.
When Democrats have one-party control, they will always use their power to protect themselves and their majority, even if it means rewriting laws one year and changing them back the next. These changes have significant consequences. In 2020, we saw Democrat governors nationwide unilaterally and illegally change election laws in their states—which made it significantly easier to cheat.