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Many tricky questions arise as Democrats sound a battle cry to capture a controlling majority of the 63-member State Senate. For now, six breakaways from that party share power with 29 GOP members (a clear minority of the total) led by Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).
By all accounts, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is pushing to get members of the Independent Democratic Conference to rejoin the mainline Democratic caucus and thus allow for more “progressive” legislation — and funding allocations — that he supports. If the members refuse, the “united” dominant party is presumed to go all-out behind the IDC members’ primary opponents.
But there are primaries and then there are primaries. If IDC leader Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) capitulates, challenger Oliver Koppell had indicated he’d forgo a race against him. But if, hypothetically, Sen. Anthony Avella (D-Bayside) agreed to “return,” it still doesn’t sound as if former City Comptroller John Liu, a de Blasio primary opponent last year, would agree to withdraw. One Liu loyalist said, “His run for Senate is about more than Tony Avella.” What follows might prove interesting.
Republicans seeking state office, based upstate and in the downstate suburbs, blast de Blasio this campaign season as a left-leaning symbol of New York City Democratic domination. Several IDC members bonded with the GOP in the first place due to alienation from the mainline caucus — and would want to know if their districts would be provided for under any new arrangements.
One can see negotiations on leadership posts getting more New York-complicated than usual, even if Democrats agree on unity in principle. Would they be persuaded to disband as a separate caucus, or might they change or alter their alliances as a single group?
For his part, the campaign-oriented de Blasio is due to headline a Democratic Senate Campaign Committee fundraiser July 2 in Manhattan.