Chris Lee Resigns: What's Next For 26th Congressional District

6:30 PM, Feb 10, 2011   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - The shocking resignation from Rep. Chris Lee (R - NY 26th District) means New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will have to call a special election to fill the vacancy.

2 On Your Side has learned from a source that Clarence area New York State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (R - 142nd District) is the leading candidate to be nominated for the spot by the Republican party.

The party chairmen will vote on whom to run in a special election, and the weighted voted is based on how many votes were cast for governor on each party's line. Since Erie County has the most voters in the 26th District, that county will carry most of the weighted vote.

The district covers all or parts of the Monroe County towns of Clarkson, Sweden, Ogden, Parma, Greece, Riga and Wheatland. It includes all of Genesee, Wyoming and Livingston counties and parts of Orleans, Niagara and Erie counties.

Monroe County Republican Chairman Bill Reilich mentioned Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks as a possibility for the district, but as of Wednesday evening had not spoken to her.

Other possibilities Reilich mentioned were former Assemblyman Jack Quinn of Hamburg, former Niagara County Republican Chairman Henry Wojtaszek of North Tonawanda, Sen. George Maziarz of Newfane and Sen. Joseph Robach of Greece.

New York will lose two congressional districts before the 2012 election, due to reapportionment.

Lee's departure will likely have an effect on that process, though if an established politician was elected, that could change the dynamic, Reilich said.

Reilich said Lee had served the district well.

"Sometimes people have a momentary lapse in judgment that they pay for a lifetime," he said.

Bill Nojay, a Rochester-area conservative talk show host, called the situation "bizarre."  

"It's one of those moments when you wonder what is happening to our country," Nojay said. "If you asked me who is the last congressman in America you would expect this of, I would have said Chris Lee."

There is a chance Lee's resignation would clear the way for the 26th District to be eliminated. New York State lost population in the most recent census and at least one congressional district in New York State is expected to be eliminated.

Related Stories:
 - Chris Lee resigns after shirtless photos surface
 - Chris Lee's Statement
 - Reaction to Chris Lee's resignation

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle Reporter Jill Terreri contributed to this story.

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