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Posted at 6:08 PM ET, 02/ 9/2011

New York Rep. Chris Lee resigns from the House

By Chris Cillizza

New York Rep. Chris Lee has resigned his seat. Photo by Derek Gee/Buffalo News

Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) resigned from the House Wednesday evening effective immediately, an announcement that came just hours after a Web site reported that the married congressman had sent a shirtless image of himself to a woman he met on Craigslist.

"I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents," Lee said in a statement announcing his resignation. "I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness."

Lee's decision to vacate his Upstate New York seat came after Gawker, a gossip Web site, posted the shirtless image and what it said was correspondence between him and a 34-year-old woman.

The woman, who Gawker described as a government employee from Maryland but did not name, told the gossip site she posted an ad last month on the "Women for Men" forum seeking "financially & emotionally secure" men who don't "look like toads." That same day, she got a response from a person who said his name was Christopher Lee, describing himself as 39-year-old lobbyist, "a very fit fun classy guy. Live in Cap Hill area. 6ft 190lbs blond/blue." In follow-up e-mails he attached photos -- one in a blue polo shirt, the other shirtless.

Lee, who is married and has one child, was elected to the 26th district in 2008 and easily re-elected in 2010. His resignation will trigger a special election in a district Arizona Sen. John McCain won with 52 percent of the vote in 2008.

The power to call the special election falls to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). There is no set deadline for a special election to be called but once it is called, it must be held between 30 and 40 days after that date.

Then-Gov. David Paterson (D) exploited this loophole so the state would not have to hold a separate special election to replace Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) after Massa's resignation in March. Paterson simply refused to call for the special election and then later set it for the same day as the November general election.

Given the amount of time between now and the next election though, it's likely Cuomo will call a special election. The state held one each in 2009 and 2010.

This is the fourth time in two years that an upstate New York seat will hold a special election (the race to replace Massa was still technically a special election).

Among the Republican names mentioned as Lee replacements include Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks and Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy, state Sen. George Maziarz and state Assemblywoman Jane Corwin.

With Aaron Blake and Amy Argetsinger

By Chris Cillizza  | February 9, 2011; 6:08 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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