Former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, left, with Gov. Kathy Hochul in...

Former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, left, with Gov. Kathy Hochul in September 2021. Credit: AP/Richard Drew

Five short days after its gerrymandered House and State Senate district maps were voided, New York's Democratic-controlled State Legislature was at it again Monday, with more partisan sausage-making — advancing a blatant fix for Gov. Kathy Hochul’s unforced lieutenant governor problem.

The fix follows Hochul's urgent alarm to her party’s legislators. Her selection last year of Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin blew up when he resigned after a federal indictment charged him with arranging to misuse state funds. But it was too late for him to legally quit the June 28 primary. That left Hochul in the worse-than-awkward political position of running with the indictee or one of her primary rivals’ preferred running mates in the number-two slot.

So Albany lawmakers scrambled to allow her to save face and on Monday passed a bill that permits “the declination of a designation as a candidate or nomination” when that person “has been arrested or charged with one or more state or federal misdemeanors or felonies, or convicted of a crime after designation.”

This custom-made measure arrives just two days before the State Board of Elections must certify designees for the June 28 primary ballot. Hochul is expected to sign the bill the minute it reaches her desk, rescuing herself from the political emergency she created. Primary opponent Rep. Tom Suozzi and possible Republican general election challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin found common ground in attacking the craven self-preservation move.

Not that the merits of the law are wrong by themselves. Surely, it’s absurd to keep a candidate in Benjamin’s scandalous position from dropping out before any ballots are even printed. It’s a rule worth changing — perhaps next year. Make it part of a credible, objectively-considered election-reform package that addresses other shortfalls in how the ballot is crafted — and maybe revisit the power of a governor to name an unelected successor-in-waiting.

The Democrats' other blatant partisan push is still to be fixed. While the House and State Senate maps have been sent back to a judge to supervise a rewrite, two new lawsuits have been filed seeking to revise the Assembly districts as well. Those went unchallenged by the GOP for several reasons including that Speaker Carl Heastie, with a 106-43 majority, seemed intent on keeping his Republican rivals whole along with giving the minority some staff goodies and perks.

The Albany craziness was upstaged later in the day with the election arm of the national Democratic Party representing five New Yorkers claiming there was no way proper new maps could be drawn up in time so the unconstitutional ones should be used.

These two stories of manipulation are linked. Single-party rule — in a state, nation or city — produces just this kind of overreach. If the state's election-anxious Democrats don't get off this hyperpartisan road, their four-year-old hegemony in Albany's executive and legislative branches might sit worse with the voting public than it does right now.

MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.