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Andrew Cuomo and the Hiram Monserrate case: the skeleton in the closet for Latino voters

April 7, 2010

Former Senator Hiram Monserrate loses bid to recapture seat in special election: photo credit: James Estrin, NYT

Although it may be a good time for gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Cuomo since the Republicans do not have a viable candidate at least one with a treasure chest to match what he has accumulated still his overzealous defense of the State Senate in federal court during the expulsion case  of former Senator Hiram Monserrate  will present some problems for him with some members of the Latino electorate state-wide who disagreed with his position and the statements he issued on the matter.

Though Monserrate didn’t recapture his Senate seat back in  March during the special election , one of the arguments his lawyer  purported  that  “currently, neither the [state] Constitution nor New York law sets forth specific grounds for expulsion,”  resonated as plausible and  valid with many  state-wide Latinos.  While still others agree with his lawyer that  “…Hiram Monserrate was unconstitutionally and illegally expelled,” as reported in the NY Daily News.

Cuomo  used words such as “absurd” “dangerous wacko”  defending the Senate’s right to expel a member who is “demonstrably corrupt, insane or violent” when he argued the case in opposing the injunction  sought, denying Monserrate’s civil rights were trampled on and his constituents left without any representation  in DEFENDANTS’ MEMORANDUM OF LAW IN OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION.

In this document Cuomo called the Lipschutz case conclusion as erroneous when back in the mid-eighties the Assembly tried to oust  Assemblywoman Lipschutz, but decided to use other tactics to force her out because the state constitution had abolished the power to expel one of its members.

Former Assembly Member José R. Peralta won the seat but few voters turned out except those with a political agenda on either side with heavy support from the gay community in the election district upset when Monserrate voted against same-sex marriage bill though many others in the Assembly and Senate voted it down and it would be interesting if these same forces come out to unseat the rest of the members.

And as much as this issue was a significant one for the gay community still the  13th Senate District has  one of the least registered voters in New York because of the large number of immigrants many of them who are not citizens .  Certainly, the special election was an advantageous one for the special interest groups wanting to oust Monserrate  from the Senate though the gay bashing and biased religious support he garnered hurt more than helped him.

The 13th Senate District has 109,000 registered voters 70% Democrats and 12% non-Hispanic voters this latter constituent coming out stronger in the special election to oust Monserrate in tandem with all of those senators and assembly members minus the eight who voted against his ouster. It was a political slaughter of a Latino elected official unprecedented in Albany political history  in 90 years that happened to the most politically vulnerable groups—los hispanos!

Some believe Peralta may not have prevailed in a primary against Monserrate during a regular as opposed to the special election when he won the seat. The Latino community does question why there is an empty seat in the Assembly they  once occupied while another filled in the Senate that already had one of its representatives, leaving Peralta’s old Assembly seat vacant. One less Latino in Albany during this critical electoral time as reapportionment, and the up-coming November elections does not serve a viable political purpose for the community but many view it as a tactic to disenfranchise them.

And gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Cuomo role as the State Attorney General upset some here , making it a political stumbling block for him as he canvasses the various ethnic constituents that make up the state-wide electorate.

Interestingly,  Senator Eric T. Schneiderman who led the Senate committee that recommended the ouster of  Monserrate whose district  the 3oth  changed to the 31st after 2000 redistricting made up of many Latinos,the largest Dominicans, stopped in the City of Buffalo wooing voters for his own campaign as the next Attorney General of New York State once Cuomo announces his bid as the Democratic hopeful for the gubernatorial race.

Some may question his integrity for  attorney general as his role in ousting Monserrate viewed  as a conflict of interest because his district is  principally 60 percent  Latino, the largest Dominicans a constituent he needed to hold on to his own seat  in the Senate while jumping on the Peralta political bandwagon to help get him elected to Monserrate’s senate seat while at the same time involved in removing him.  And former  NYC Council Member  Guillermo Linares, a Dominican, challenged him back in 2002  after the redistricting of the 30th to the 31st district.

Is all of this political maneuvering bad for the state-wide Latino electorate yes but now they have a deck of cards to play with puts them in a better political position to insist on someone from their ethnic ranks for consideration for State Comptroller, Lt. Governor or Attorney General. Basta ya! con los juegos político que al final le benefician mas otros que la comunidad Latina. Nos han dejado políticamente cojo en la Asamblea un escaño vacante nada de  orgullo para los Latinos. ¡Despierta!

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