Welcome to the fray, Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

Senate Republicans are laying into Stewart-Cousins, elected the Senate Democratic conference leader on Monday, for her comments on Fred Dicker’s Talk-1300 show this morning in which she endorsed the public financing of political campaigns, listing it as a top priority for her in the coming legislative session.

“The people who you send to represent you should be representing you. And part of the thing about public financing I mean, you know you got people who are maybe running on one line and then work with people on another situation in another party. I think that there’s more accountability when you have public financing to the people who actually say ‘wait a minute, I’m voting for you to do x, y and z and I’m voting for you philosophically for this reason or that,’” she told Dicker in the interview.

That gave the Senate GOP, which has blocked public financing of political campaigns on the grounds that it costs too much money, an opening to attack, citing the recent Q-poll that found New York voters oppose the system 51 percent to 39 percent.

From Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif:

It’s unfortunate that the Senate Democratic minority considers public campaign financing to be more important than creating new jobs and revitalizing New York’s economy. What kind of message does that send to New Yorkers who are out of work and struggling to find a job to pay their bills? What these Democrats are really saying is they want to force taxpayers to spend as much as $200 million a year on political campaigns, which is not surprising since they raised taxes and fees by $14 billion the last time they were in the majority, and hurt our ability to create jobs. Their conference may have a new leader, but they continue to be out-of-touch with the needs of hardworking people. Virtually every day the residents of New York get another reminder of why the new bipartisan Senate Majority coalition is the best way to keep this state moving forward.”

Of course, Gov. Andrew Cuomo also supports campaign-finance reform and has said public financing is a critical component for the measure, even if he wouldn’t say in an interview with New York Public Radio’s Karen DeWitt such a provision has to be included in legislation

Last night on the show in an interview with Liz, Stewart-Cousins said she would “partner” with Cuomo, noting that many of her conference’s priorities line up well with his litmus test.

And earlier on the show with Liz, the Independent Democratic Conference was hesitant to give a full-throated endorsement of public financing for political campaigns, noting that other reforms may be needed for the system first.