Constituents in U.S. Rep. Chris Lee's district have seen scandal from New York politicians before. So when they watched their congressman implode after a gossip site published topless photos of Lee that the married Republican sent to a woman on Craigslist, they said it all felt sadly familiar.
"This isn't the first time this has happened to us, you know. It's embarrassing," Zophia Swiderek of Dansville, N.Y., told AOL News today.
Swiderek, a stay-at-home mom, was referring to another upstate New York congressman, Eric Massa, a Democrat who resigned last March amid allegations that he had sexually harassed a male aide. In recent years, sex scandals have also forced the resignation of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer and bruised the tenure of former Gov. David Paterson.
So today, constituents in New York's 26th District outside of Buffalo said news of the scandal and rapid resignation of their congressman felt a little like business as usual.
"Yeah, he shouldn't have done that," said Constance Berry, 61, of Mount Morris. But, she added, "lately nothing the politicians do is surprising around here."
The flirtatious exchange between the two-term congressman and the so far unidentified woman he met on Craigslist -- along with the racy photos of himself that he sent to her -- created a firestorm of controversy on the Internet after Gawker published them.
Hours later, Lee announced his resignation.
"The challenges we face in western New York and across the country are too serious for me to allow this distraction to continue, and so I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately," he said in a statement.
Some constituents said they were disgusted.
"Wait a minute, you guys have ethics, you have a lot of things you need to uphold to, and you know what, if you can't take care of your own home, how are you supposed to take care of everybody else around the state?" Mario Bauman, a resident in the 26th District, asked cable news channel YNN Buffalo.
But in Albany, Lee's resignation barely registered a blip among Republican leaders, who seemed keen to move on and were already talking about the right person to replace him on Wednesday evening.
"We have some phenomenal candidates," Erie County Republican Chairman Nicholas Langworthy told The Buffalo News. "The question is selecting the right candidate and getting consensus."
"I'm not a compromising type of a person," he wrote in an e-mail message to The New York Times Wednesday evening. He did not immediately respond to a phone call for comment from AOL News today.
Berry, meanwhile, said it didn't matter who replaced Lee.
"They're all the same," she said. "But it's getting worse. It's like they all believe they're above everybody else now."