BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — On Sunday, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced that he intends to resign from his seat in Washington in February 2024.
Higgins, 64, has been in his seat in Buffalo and elsewhere in Western New York since 2005 and will leave Congress during his ninth term in office.
So, what will happen to the seat once Higgins has officially left office?
Higgins said he intends to officially step down in the first week of February 2024. From there, according to state law, Governor Kathy Hochul must call for a special election within 10 days of Higgins filing a notice to vacate.
From there, Hochul will set a date for the special election within 70 to 80 days from the date Higgins steps down. If Higgins does resign in the first week of February, the election would likely fall in mid-April. The winner would be sworn in within a few weeks afterward.
Erie’s and Niagara County’s Democratic and Republican committees would nominate someone to run. Both will have a say, but Erie County is likely to have a larger say in the process. Any potential Republican candidates are currently unknown. On the Democratic side, political analyst Ken Kruly told News 4 that State Senator Tim Kennedy, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz are all interested in the job. Depending on who is nominated, it could trigger a political domino effect in Western New York.
You bet. There were two special elections held in New York State in August 2022, one of which was in Western New York. Joe Sempolinski (R) defeated Max Della Pia (D) in a special election for the state’s 23rd district, which includes Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties, along with parts of Erie County. That was to replace Republican Tom Reed, who resigned in May 2022.
Sempolinski did not run in the general election later that year, a seat which was won by current Congressman Nick Langworthy (R).
Another special election occurred in the 19th district, with Democrat Pat Ryan beating Republican Marc Molinaro. Molinaro won the general election against Josh Riley in November 2022. That was to replace incumbent Antonio Delgado, who resigned in May 2022 to become New York’s lieutenant governor. The district encompasses the state’s Catskills, Hudson Valley, Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions.
The special election would be the first of two elections in the 26th district in 2024.
The general election will be held on Nov. 5, 2024 for the same seat. It may be the same candidates again, or it may not be. Time will tell with that one. The winner of that election will have a two-year term in office beginning on Jan. 3, 2025.