Looks like the House circus proved to be too much entertainment for Democratic lawmaker Brian Higgins of New York, who announced his resignation over the weekend. After almost 19 years, the 64-year-old congressman is stepping down, citing a "frustrating" dysfunction in the House that is only getting worse.
"Too often elected officials chase the twenty-four-hour news cycle, focusing on the issue of the day, and when you look back there is little to show for it," the lawmaker said in his announcement yesterday.
"I've always been a little impatient, and that trait has helped us deliver remarkable progress for this community. But the pace in Washington, D.C. can be slow and frustrating, especially this year. Therefore, after thoughtful consideration, I have made the difficult decision to leave Congress and explore other ways I can build up and serve Buffalo and Western New York." Higgins is set to resign the first week in February, leaving Governor Kathy Hochul to call for a special election.
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.
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.
Higgins' full statement:
It was nineteen years ago this month that I was first elected to serve in Congress and doing this work has truly been the honor of a lifetime. I've never lingered on Capitol Hill, I go there on a mission to change my community and return home on the first flight each week because being in Western New York, talking to people here, provides an urgent reminder of what I was sent to Washington to do.
Too often elected officials chase the twenty-four-hour news cycle, focusing on the issue of the day, and when you look back there is little to show for it. We have been deliberate in taking a different approach – committed to finding a focus, fighting for what really matters in the lives of people here in Western New York, and getting things done. I am proud of what we've accomplished: steadfast service to veterans, lifesaving flight safety measures, record bipartisan infrastructure and Great Lakes investments, a major increase in the nation's commitment to fighting cancer, a transformation of our waterfront, and the list goes on. Over the years we've put the people of Buffalo-Niagara first and changed Western New York for the better.
I've always been a little impatient, and that trait has helped us deliver remarkable progress for this community. But the pace in Washington, D.C. can be slow and frustrating, especially this year. Therefore, after thoughtful consideration, I have made the difficult decision to leave Congress and explore other ways I can build up and serve Buffalo and Western New York.
"The Buffalo-Niagara region is a place like none other, a home known for its neighborly heart, a small city with big offerings, and a region with a bright future. I am incredibly proud to have played a role in Western New York's transformation and forever grateful for the opportunity to represent the good people of New York's 26th Congressional District.