Vacancies, vacancies, vacancies. Every year it feels like there are a bunch of open seats in the Legislature, and so begins the long dance over when (or if) to call a special election. This year there are two quite notable open seats: Those once held by Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver.

Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggested that he would call a special election on April 19, which would line up local races with New York’s presidential primary. He hasn’t officially done so yet, and he has until early February to make a final decision. That gives the governor some leeway, although not a ton.

Some had suggested that Democrats on Long Island had asked him to hold off. They have selected Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky as their candidate to run for the Skelos seat, and as Jimmy Vielkind astutely pointed out, Democrats have fretted that a fluid national Republican Primary could boost Republican turnout on Strong Island.

But here is another reason I was recently told April may not work. According to a source, the New York City Board of Elections simply cannot handle it. Apparently, there are separate computer programs for local races and national races, and holding them simultaneously that day would be too much for the board. I mean, let’s face it, competence was never their strong suit. Silver’s seat is in lower Manhattan, so the NYC Board would be in charge of holding the election for the Silver seat that day.

That leaves two other possibilities.

1) Cuomo could call the special to line up with that new, weird congressional primary day that takes place in June. June 28th is the day this year.

2) Cuomo could push it to Sept. 7th, which is the day of the state primaries. Whichever date is picked will greatly affect the race for Silver’s seat. Yesterday, Manhattan Democratic leaders had been scheduled to meet to discuss who they might endorse for the seat, but the meeting was cancelled due to all the uncertainty surrounding the date of the election. If the April 19 date were to work, then the local Democratic committee in the financial district would choose who gets the seat. In that case, New York County leaders would likely get involved.

Full disclosure before I go any further: I actually live in Lower Manhattan so this race is my district. So, not only did I have the privilege of covering Shelly Silver, he was also my assemblyman, and I should say that I found him very responsive to my constituent needs. (I’m just kidding about the last part).

So far there are at least three candidates who are looking to run for the seat – Jenifer Rajkumar, a Democratic district leader; Paul Newell, who is also a Democratic district leader and has the distinction of losing to Silver in a 2008 primary – the first the then-speaker had faced in two decades; and Yuh-Line Niou who is chief of staff to Assemblyman Ron Kim.

According to one insider, Rajkumar and Newell seem to be splitting the vote, since they are trying to lock up committee support from the same committee they both represent as district leaders. Also, some Chinatown leaders don’t like Rajkumar because she ran against NYC Councilwoman Margaret Chin. Niou seems to be getting much of that critical Chinatown political support, even though she doesn’t live there. She actually lives in a more fancy shmancy part of the district further downtown.

If the election is held in June, it will also be a committee selection, but if it’s pushed to September there would be an open primary. There will actually be a primary regardless, so even if a candidate is chosen, he or she would still potentially have to fight off challengers in September. Obviously, if someone is already sitting in that seat they have the advantages of incumbency going into that primary. So, now it really comes down to which date will be selected.

ted knight