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ALBANY -- Republicans see the potentially historic announcement by Democrats to unite to form a Senate majority coalition next year as an unsavory political deal to avoid damage from several Democratic primary fights this year.
The announcement came Wednesday from the Independent Democratic Conference, which shares majority control of the Senate in a bipartisan coalition with Republicans. The deal comes two weeks before primary challengers will have to commit to taking on Democratic and IDC incumbents.
The long-sought agreement by the IDC and the mainline Democratic conference could end some of those costly and divisive challenges, benefiting each conference.
“Some may bow out now because they don’t have the support,” said Lee Miringoff, political science professor and director of the Marist College poll. “This changes a lot of calculations.”
Republicans call it a deal by “co-conspirators.”
“This ‘agreement’ is nothing more than a short-term political deal designed to make threatened primaries go away,” said Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).
Among the threatened Democratic primary challenges is one against IDC leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx). Democrats have planned to challenge him with Oliver Koppell, a former Bronx councilman.
Democrats also have threatened to challenge IDC Sen. Tony Avella (D-Whitestone) with former New York City Controller John Liu.
IDC Sens. David Carlucci (D-Clarkstown), Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) and David Valesky (D-Oneida) said they have also heard rumblings that Democrats were considering primaries against them.
The IDC members faced no primaries two years ago and were mostly given passes by Republicans in the general election.
The Independent Democratic Conference, however, also have planned to mount primaries against other Democrats to increase their fold. The IDC has supported Betty Jean Grant against Sen. Timothy Kennedy (D-Buffalo). In the Bronx, Democratic Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera has talked with Klein in Cabrera’s plan to primary Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx).
“In the heat of primaries and elections, people say a lot of things,” Skelos said. “When primary season is over, I’m confident that cooler heads will prevail.”
On Thursday, Independent Democratic Conference leader Klein referred to the intra-Democratic fights as “potential primaries” and said he’s unsure whether he will continue to press a candidate against Kennedy.
“We have to see what happens,” Klein said on public radio’s “Capital Pressroom.”