EXCLUSIVE: Felder Sides With Senate GOP
Senator-elect Simcha Felder, a conservative Brooklyn Democrat who has been keeping people guessing about his political loyalties since he announced his campaign for the new “Super Jewish” seat back in April, has finally chosen a side.
After meeting with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Felder has decided to turn his back on his fellow Democrats and caucus with the Republicans next year. Here’s his statement:
“From the moment I began my campaign for Senate, I made clear that the priorities of my district will form my agenda in Albany.”
“I represent a middle-class community with substantial concerns about the direction of our State. And I have been clear that I will work with any group of Senators who have real economic development and jobs-encouragement ideas, who plan to bring substantial tax relief to the people who elected me, who have compassion for the poor and respect for the middle class, who support the improvement of public education and a plan to ease the burden of tuition-paying parents across New York.”
“Earlier today, I met with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. We discussed the issues that concern my constituents. By joining him and the Senate Majority Conference I will be able to serve the people who elected me, and advance a legislative agenda that best meets their needs.”
“Accordingly, when the next Senate meets in January 2013, I will caucus with my colleagues in the Republican conference. I have enormous respect for the Senators from both parties, but I must choose to caucus with those Senators who will best serve the communities I represent.”
It wasn’t immediately clear what, exactly, Skelos had to promise Felder to get him to commit. The senator-elect has been quite clear that he would caucus with whichever conference offered him the better deal so he could maximize deliverables (AKA pork) for his district.
Of course, in Albany’s to-the-victor-goes-the-spoils culture, whoever controls the majority gets the lion’s share of the resources. So, if Democrats do manage to eke out a win here, I think it’s a safe assumption that Felder could very well be back in play.
In the meantime, Felder’s defection brings the Senate GOP’s total to 31 - one vote shy of the 32 necessary to control what will be a 63-seat chamber come Jan. 1.
It also reduces the Democrats’ ranks to 30, although that figure includes the four members of the Independent Democratic Conference, led by Sen. Jeff Klein, and doesn’t include two seats the Democrats believe they will win: Terry Gipson (vs. GOP Sen. Steve Saland in the 41st SD) and Cecilia Tkaczyk (vs. GOP Assemblyman George Amedore in the 46th SD).
Gipson is a much more likely win for the Democrats, since he’s leading Saland by about 1,600 votes, thanks to the third candidate in the race, Neil Di Carlo, who siphoned votes from the senator on the Conservative line.
Tkaczyk leads Amedore by just 139 votes, with some 11,000 absentee ballots to count. The recanvass started today, but this race might not be decided for several weeks.
In an interview with The Buffalo News, Klein didn’t seem anxious to return to the Democratic fold, pledging that the IDC “will be a permanent third conference” in the Senate and also ”have a major role in shaping the policy agenda of this state.”
Of course, Klein’s fellow Democrats don’t really need him and his three independent compadres to caucus with them. If they want to retain their independence, that’s fine, as long as they vote for a Democrat and not a Republican when it comes time to pick a majority leader.
Sen. Mike Gianaris, chair of the DSCC, has repeatedly insisted that Klein said prior to last week’s elections that he would never vote for a Republican majority leader. But the Bronx senator, who, incidentally, ran on the GOP line for the first time this year, hasn’t said anything of the sort since last Tuesday.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on November 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm, and is filed under Brooklyn, Dean Skelos, Democrats, Republicans, State Senate, Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|