News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.
ALBANY -- After perhaps Albany’s strangest coup, this time by Democrats to take over the Senate majority next year, angry Republicans vowed to fight back.
“It’s unfortunate that Mayor de Blasio, the radical Working Families Party and their co-conspirators in the Senate Democratic Conference are attempting to take control of the New York State Senate,” said Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).
He referred to a surprise agreement announced Wednesday by the Independent Democratic Conference to end its coalition with Republicans next year to align with the Democratic minority.
“This ‘agreement’ is nothing more than a short-term political deal designed to make threatened primaries go away,” Skelos said.
Two IDC members -- including leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) -- have been threatened with Democratic primaries. But those challenges don’t have to be final until July, leaving time for opponents to drop out.
Skelos was angry at the apparent betrayal by the IDC and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who applauds the Democratic plan. Senate Republicans have been Cuomo’s most reliable allies and responsible for passing some of his biggest accomplishments.
“Both Senator Klein and I realize that our historic coalition has made great progress for the people of this state, and more importantly the majority of New Yorkers believe that as well,” Skelos said.
“In fact, just today the governor was touting our shared accomplishments,” Skelos said. “It’s unfortunate that the governor would cave to the Working Families Party and what they stand for -- higher taxes and spending -- and is that concerned with a primary from a largely unknown challenger.”
Cuomo acknowledged that partnership in his joint statement with the IDC.
“There is no doubt that we have accomplished much for the state over the past four years,” Cuomo said. “We have transformed the state government from dysfunctional to highly functional, a deficit to a surplus, and losing jobs to gaining jobs. There is also no doubt there are progressive goals that we have yet to achieve and that we must accomplish next January.”
Cuomo had committed to the liberal Working Families Part agenda in May to receive the important minor party’s endorsement. The WFP has long sought to end Republicans’ control in the Senate, which has blocked some liberal causes, including more protection for late-term abortions, a higher minimum wage and college aid for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.
Past Senate coups have used the Thanksgiving holiday to buy time to line up votes for a new leader and, in 2009, a creative parliamentary attack by Republicans briefly took majority control away from Democrats as they stood by helplessly during a session.By comparison, Wednesday's power grab is in slow motion, effective only next year and only if Republicans fail to win an outright majority in November.