After years of Democratic infighting that has helped Republicans maintain control of the New York State Senate, two Democratic factions are on the brink of reunifying, according to published reports.
Following a Democratic "unity meeting" Tuesday in Manhattan, attended by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Democratic Senate leaders and top officials of unions that hold influence over the Democratic Party, the cohesion deal among Senate Democrats was announced Wednesday afternoon. Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Yonkers will lead the combined group, with IDC leader Jeff Klein of the Bronx as deputy leader. But one of those senators, Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, has continued to caucus with the Republicans separately from Klein's alliance with the party.
The new deal appears to end the years-long dispute between the Senate Democrats and the IDC ahead of a pair of key special elections April 24, including in Westchester for County Executive George Latimer's former Senate seat.
"Just because now this pressure has forced (the IDC) to dissolve does not mean that it undoes the seven years of damage that has already occurred in NY state", Biaggi said. It will also relieve some pressure on those IDC members facing tough renomination fights. It has also become a campaign issue in Cynthia Nixon challenging Cuomo from the left.
The announcement Wednesday was accelerated in what Democrats say was a bow on Cuomo's part to the small, but influential Working Families Party. To get that party's nod in past elections, Cuomo vowed to get the Senate Democrats to unite, but it didn't happen.
Liberal groups said they would continue to support primary challengers against IDC members. The goal is to give Democrats majority control of the senate, although at the moment a lot of that depends on where Sen.
The reunification would end one of the oddest political arrangements in the country, and in the history of New York State. "If you've set your own house on fire and watched it burn for eight years, finally turning on a hose doesn't make you a hero", said Nixon who has been pounding Cuomo on a theme that questions whether he is a true Democrat.
Democrats already have a big majority in the state Assembly and hold the offices of governor, comptroller and attorney general. Control of the Senate, too, would ease the way for Democratic bills now blocked by the GOP, including ones to increase firearm restrictions, allow early voting, authorize state financial aid to students who entered the country illegally as children, and extend the statute of limitations on child molestation to allow victims to sue for decades-old abuse.
The group, led for years by State Sen.
"We can not and we will not tolerate any continued division or individual power struggles within the Senate Democratic Conference", Berman wrote in a statement.
"Sometimes you have to take a step back before you take two steps forward", he said.
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