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NY Republicans Seek New Process to Remove Cuomo, Statewide Officials From Office

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Republicans call for the creation of a recall process in New York.
Credit: Dan Clark

New York State Politics

Republicans in New York said Wednesday they want voters to be able to petition for statewide elected officials to be recalled from office — a process that currently doesn’t exist in the Empire State.

State Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy was in Albany Wednesday to support the proposal, which would require an amendment to the state constitution.

“Giving New Yorkers the power to recall statewide elected officials would bring much needed reform and accountability to this government. This should not be a partisan issue,” Langworthy said. “You should support it because it holds people in power accountable.”

The proposal was targeted at Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who Republicans have railed against over the past year for his administration’s handling of COVID-19 in the state’s nursing homes.

The state has reported more than 13,000 confirmed and presumed deaths of nursing home residents, as of this week, with more at other adult care facilities as well. Republicans have argued that some of those deaths were the direct result of actions by the Cuomo administration.

The idea to create a process to recall statewide elected officials isn’t new. Republicans have sponsored the measure before, but it hasn’t picked up steam.

And even if Democrats, who hold the majority in the state Legislature, agreed to move forward with the idea, it wouldn’t be implemented until 2024 at the earliest.

That’s because it would require an amendment to the state constitution. That involves a vote by the current sitting Legislature, another vote by the next sitting Legislature in 2023, and then approval from voters on the ballot. 

By then, New York could have a different governor. But Langworthy said the process should still exist to give more power to voters to hold elected officials accountable, even if they’re from his own party.

“I think the people should have the opportunity to institute this,” Langworth said. “I believe this is something that should work here.”

To initiate a recall election, the legislation would require a number of signatures equal to 12% of the total number of votes cast in the most recent election for the statewide official in question. 

In the case of Cuomo, that would be about 740,000 signatures, according to State Sen. George Borrello, a supporter of the measure.

“Giving this mechanism and having it there, technically if it’s never used, still gives comfort to people that they have this option,” said Borrello, a Republican from Chautauqua County.

There’s already a process to remove a governor from office in New York, much like the federal process of impeachment, but it’s rarely been used over the course of the state’s history.

Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi responded to the idea in a tweet, criticizing Langworthy for his support of former President Donald Trump.

“Langworthy encouraged Trump and his allies to overturn an election, which set off a series of events that resulted in a violent failed insurrection, a dead police officer and a second impeachment that is going on as we speak,” Azzopardi said. “Never forget that he enabled and coddled treason.”