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McKinstry: Is the Women's Equality Act the beginning of the end for the IDC?

State Sen. David Carlucci speaks with the media

State Sen. David Carlucci speaks with the media during a visit to Franklin Elementary School in Pearl River. (April 5, 2013) Photo Credit: Susan Stava

In a show of support for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Rockland Democrats are blasting one of their own: New York Sen. David Carlucci. They’re particularly peeved at the Independent Democratic Conference's role in blocking the governor’s Women’s Equality Act from being voted on.

They’re calling Carlucci a sellout. It's this kind of hardball pressure tactics that just might force the Senate to have a vote today on whether or not to approve an abortion bill.

The Rockland County Democratic Committee says it is “disheartened and disgusted” with Carlucci, a Rockland Democrat who is a member of the four-member IDC that shares leadership in the Senate with Republicans.

They sent out a two-page letter Thursday carrying 29 signatures, criticizing Carlucci and the IDC.

“Democrats are tired of it,” Kristen Stavisky, chairwoman of Rockland’s committee, told me. “The party’s rank and file is very upset. They feel betrayed.”

Stavisky said Carlucci and the IDC have “sold out to Dean Skelos.”

Skelos, a Long Island Republican, shares a leadership role with Senate co-leader Jeff Klein, a Democrat from the Bronx whose district includes part of Yonkers.

Cuomo and Senate Democrats went after IDC members over the Women’s Equality Act, which Republicans oppose. Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Yonkers said that they want a vote on all 10 points in the governor’s plan. Not nine or fewer, notably an abortion provision that is a deal-breaker for Republicans. The Assembly already passed the bill.

The IDC has called on senators to show their support for the governor’s women’s bill to help determine who is truly pro-choice. But that’s not happening.

The governor has acknowledged as much, saying the issue may have to be settled come election time.

So could this be the beginning of the end for the IDC? Will it buckle under the pressure or push back against Democrats? Locally, will Rockland Dems pull their support for Carlucci?

We may look back at this as the day of the great -- or not so great -- schism. While Stavisky says it’s premature to say whom the Rockland committee will get behind (the election for state legislators is more than a year away), it sure sounds like it won’t be lining up behind Carlucci. And there won’t be any hugs and kisses when the senator returns from Albany.

“There’s no question there’s going to be payback,” a Republican familiar with situation in Albany told me. “They’re going to try and take them out and shoot them.”

And by shoot, they really mean run challengers in a primary. That could jeopardize an already fragile leadership coalition.


Late Friday, Sen. Carlucci’s office issued this statement:

"Today, I joined with my fellow Democratic Senators to support a woman's right to choose. This remains a prominent cornerstone and critical 10th element of Governor Cuomo's Women's Equality Agenda. This bill simply codifies in state law the right of choice that women in New York already are guaranteed. Unfortunately, the measure did not pass since there were not enough votes for this amendment to pass on either side of the aisle. Let me be clear -- I will continue to strongly advocate for the reproductive health rights of the women of New York State. I am, and always will be, proudly a pro choice Democratic senator."


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