Massa paves way for third upstate N.Y. special this cycle

New York might as well be renamed the Land of Special Elections from now on.

Rep. Erica Massa's (D-N.Y.) announcement Friday that he will resign clears the way for a third special election this cycle in upstate New York. Democrats won the first two in the northern 23rd and eastern 20th, but the western 29th could not be more fertile ground for the GOP.

Like the 20th and 23rd, the 29th features a sizeable GOP registration advantage (about 45,000 more Republicans than Democrats). But it was the only one of the three to go for the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Republican Corning Mayor Tom Reed had already been running against Massa. After the incumbent announced he wouldn't seek reelection, the man he beat in 2008, former Rep. Randy Kuhl (R-N.Y.), has also expressed interest.

A special election would have to be called by the governor, who is currently the embattled David Paterson. Whether Paterson resigns or stays on, whoever proclaims the special election has great lattitude in determining the date of the race. The only rule is that he or she has to proclaim it 30-40 days before it happens. Previously, Paterson has given a heads up about when he will proclaim the date and when the election will be held to allow the parties to select their candidates.

One possible date is the state's primary in Sept. 14, but that would leave the seat vacant for more than six months. The governor, could also, if he wanted, not declare a special at all and simply wait for the November general election.