The New York state Senate is up to its old tricks again.
Going into Tuesday’s elections, the Republicans had a 33-29 advantage in the state Senate. After Tuesday’s results, the Democrats shockingly took several seats and ended with a 31-30 advantage and are waiting for the results of two other elections that have to count absentee ballots. If the Democrats can get to 32, it would give them a majority in the Senate.
It looked promising to New York State Sen. John Sampson. “Last night, voters across New York made it clear they want their state Senate to be led by the Democratic Conference,” said Sampson in an emailed statement to the AmNews last Wednesday. “New Yorkers overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates throughout the state, because we campaigned on an agenda that reflects our hopes and values.
“The Senate Democratic Conference will continue to push this progressive agenda, including raising the minimum wage, supporting women’s rights, creating good paying jobs and achieving real campaign finance reform,” concluded Sampson.
But not so fast. State Sen.-elect Simcha Felder, a Democrat from Brooklyn, after a meeting with Republican Leader Dean Skelos, decided to work with the Republican conference in Albany. Felder, a deputy to New York City Comptroller John Liu, believes caucusing with the Republicans will better benefit his constituents on issues of economic development, taxes and education.
“I have enormous respect for the senators from both parties, but I must choose to caucus with those senators who will best serve the communities I represent,” said Felder in a statement.
However, the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) could change all of the tentative celebrating by the state’s left. The group, made up of Sens. David Carlucci from Clarkstown, Jeff Klein from the Bronx, David Valesky from Oneida and Diane Savino from Staten Island, initially kept silent after Tuesday’s elections with the exception of one released statement.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, New York families and businesses need a strong, stable government now more than ever,” read the group statement. “We look forward to getting back to the people’s business right away.”
In the past week, the IDC has been wooed and courted by the state GOP and Democrats. Some Democrats have faith that the IDC will stick with their party affiliation, but Klein, in an interview with the Buffalo News–the first public words from a member of the group outside of the IDC statement–wouldn’t comment one way or the other, but did say this: “The only thing I’m prepared to say now is, we believe that the Independent Democratic Conference will be a permanent third conference within the New York Senate, and the Independent Democratic Conference will have a major role in shaping the policy agenda of this state.”
Let the games begin.