ALBANY — In what appeared to be a coordinated effort, a Mohawk Valley senator on Wednesday became the second Democrat to signal he might support a “bipartisan coalition” to govern the New York State Senate — that could keep Republicans in power.
Sen. David Valesky (D-Oneida) issued a statement that hinted four members of the “Independent Democratic Conference” could join with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) to form a governing alliance.
“I believe the time is right for a true bipartisan coalition to govern the Senate,” Valesky said. He said such a partnership would be “a bold new model of . . . governance for the people of this state.”
Currently, Democrats and Republicans each claim 31 seats following this year’s elections and control of the Senate would appear to hinge on a paper-ballot recount in one upstate race. One seat, covering a Catskills-Capital Region district, is so close that it’s now subject to a court-supervised count of absentee and emergency ballots that will begin Thursday.
But that could all change if Valeksy and other Democrats form a partnership with Republicans.
The Valesky statement came just days after Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) — leader of the independent Democrats — penned a newspaper op-ed pitching the idea of “coalition government.” Klein also met with Skelos after Election Day, though the two haven’t discussed details. Newsday reported that Valesky could be appointed to a top leadership post — possibly Senate president, the second-highest Senate office — if the IDC supports Skelos.
Skelos has repeatedly said Republicans “will have an operating majority” on Jan. 1, the start of the new legislative session. Two weeks ago, one plank of the GOP plan fell in place when a Simcha Felder, elected as a Democrat in Brooklyn, said he'd sit with the GOP conference.
Republicans went into the elections with a 33-29 advantage in the Senate, the lone bastion of state government the party controls.