How things change in the Wonderland of Albany.
A week ago, State Senate Democrats were completely dismissive of the idea of rewriting election laws to allow Gov. Kathy Hochul to dump Brian Benjamin, her former lieutenant governor, from the ballot after he was arrested on corruption charges. A bill proposed in the State Assembly didn’t have a sponsor in the Senate. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the majority leader, said she didn’t want to rewrite the rules in an election year.
All of this made sense. While candidates should be allowed to remove themselves from the ballot if they are indicted or resign, it’s odd to change the law for a single candidate to protect the political interests of one governor. Furthermore, Hochul had just won major concessions from legislative Democrats in the $220 billion budget, securing $600 million in state taxpayer dollars for a new Buffalo Bills stadium and squelching various progressive priorities, including a new housing voucher program for the homeless. It was a budget process that harkened back to the Cuomo era, when the authoritarian governor was happy to shove around lawmakers to get his way on pet issues.