Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter's death last Friday at age 88 creates a vacancy that will lead to the seventh New York special election in the last decade. Slaughter, the former chair of the House Rules Committee, represented Rochester in the House for over 31 years. Democrats begin with a strong advantage to retain her seat, but the race won't begin in earnest until after her funeral, scheduled for this Friday.

Under New York state law, Gov. Andrew Cuomo must set a special election date 70 to 80 days after declaring a vacancy, but in the past, he has had broad leeway as to when to proclaim a seat vacant. Most speculate that he will opt to set the special election for November 6, in conjunction with the regular midterm election — and that parties will nominate whoever wins the June 26 primary to run in the special as well.

This timetable could be helpful to Democrats' drive to safeguard the seat. Before Slaughter's passing, Republicans had already coalesced behind neurosurgeon Jim Maxwell, who has served as chief of neurosurgery at

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