What if New York’s political leadership wasn’t an embarrassing mess?

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For the 12th time in the past 20 years, New York received a new lieutenant governor this week. Acting Lieutenant Governor, yes — but: still.

Perhaps you had the impression that the position came with a four-year term. Well, you are right! But since the start of 2003, only two lieutenant governors have actually served a full term, from January to January, four years later. On average, second state executives only lasted about 500 days on average, almost always either because they got caught up in nefarious activity or because the governor got caught up, which means that they have been asked for the highest position.

In the case of Brian Benjamin, Lieutenant Governor of New York until this week, it was the first. He was indicted on federal criminal charges, including bribery and fraud. He replaced Kathy Hochul, who became governor when Andrew M. Cuomo stepped down following multiple allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct.

Cuomo replaced David Paterson, a former lieutenant governor who was elevated to leadership following the resignation of Eliot Spitzer over a sex scandal. When Paterson became governor, his seat as lieutenant governor was filled by a truly spectacular cast of acting and appointed replacements: Joe Bruno, who was later indicted on corruption charges; Dean Skelos, who was later convicted for some; Malcolm Smith, who suffered the same fate; Pedro Espada Jr., who did the same; and, finally, Richard Ravitch, who did not. Paterson was replaced by Cuomo after deciding not to run in the face of his own corruption allegations.

If I may editorialize as a New Yorker: it’s embarrassing.

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Compare the pattern in New York with its neighbor Connecticut over the past 40 years.

During this period, Connecticut saw one governor resign – John Rowland, who was facing his own indictment for corruption. Its lieutenant governor then assumed the top job in 2004 and was subsequently re-elected. And that’s all. This is the magnitude of turnover. New York has seen more than that in the past nine months.

All solid lines on the graph below indicate turnover. But that’s a bit misleading; some of the changes in New York have been so rapid that the lines merge and are indistinguishable.

It is useful to remember that these are only the two highest executive positions. New York’s legislative branch is worse. Many of those acting lieutenant governors under Paterson held that position as president of the state senate, so many of those bribery indictments and convictions were a function of their hard work on the legislative side of Albany.

When Cuomo resigned last year, I held out hope that maybe the state would clean up its act. But much of that is systemic, with archaic voting rules helping to solidify party power (an effort to reform those rules that were on the ballot last year failed largely thanks to low voter turnout). participation) and a pattern of political scratching that dates back to at least the early 19th century. So two weeks after writing that hopeful article last August, Hochul tapped out Benjamin, who had already committed the alleged acts for which he was charged. In January of this year, these allegations had been revealed.

Too bad. There is always the next time.

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