Despite Democrat's win, GOP rules Senate
The final blow in a bruising election cycle for the State Senate's once-mighty Republicans came Friday, with a belated end to the last 2012 vote count. Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk prevailed by less than 20 votes to upset Republican George Amedore -- in an upstate district drawn by GOP strategists during last year's reapportionment.
Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos' conference, including all nine Long Islanders, ends up keeping clout -- but only for the grace of a deal they cut weeks earlier with dissident Democrats to form a ruling coalition, European-style.
Thirty-three senators are now elected from the Democratic line and 30 as Republicans. But six of those Democrats, mostly from the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, partnered with Skelos -- thus freezing the remaining 27 Democrats -- led by the third Senate Democratic leader in four years, Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Westchester -- out of majority power.
Skelos spokesman Scott Reif said: "The outcome of this race doesn't change anything. Senate Republicans have already partnered with the IDC [and] will keep moving this state forward." Further forward, that is, from a notorious 2009-10 term in which a Democratic majority featured paralytic divisions, defections and the Aqueduct casino-contract scandal.
What this scenario brings for coming budgets and legislation remains to be seen. From Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's perch, the parliamentary setup of the Senate could mean the best of both worlds: his frequent GOP allies of the past two years still players, but with more of his Democratic-favored proposals gaining easier enactment. In the worst of both worlds, Republican resistance and Democratic discord would bog down his agenda.
Last week's gun-control drama seems to show that so far, this new scenario can get Cuomo what he wants.
HELPING OUT: One of mayoral hopeful John Catsimatidis' supporters, on hand for an interview at his Manhattan offices last week, was his friend William Fries, former first executive chairman of the Suffolk Conservative Party. "John is a compassionate man who loves New York and feels this is a way to give back to the people," Fries said. Catsimatidis, a self-made businessman, became visibly moved expressing his pride in America and feelings for his father, who immigrated from Nissyros, Greece, and who he said worked for a long time busing tables at Longchamps restaurant in Manhattan.