Klein Edges Away From Deal With Senate Dems
Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein, the leader of a breakaway faction of Democrats, edged away from an agreement made with the mainline conference of Democrats earlier this year, saying in an interview on Monday that “a lot has changed.”
In an interview on The Capitol Pressroom, Klein insisted he remained committed to electing more Democrats to the state Senate.
But at the same time, Klein acknowledged that it’s likely no one will be sure who has a clear majority in the chamber after Election Day, signaling that his conference will once again be in a position to play kingmaker.
“I think you have a lot of competitive races, I’ll be very surprised if we know tomorrow evening if there will be more Democrats than Republicans in the state Senate,” Klein said.
In a foreshadowing of what is to come this month – and potentially for the end of the year – Klein would not rule out working with Senate Republicans in some capacity next year.
“I’m a Democrat, I want to elect Democrats, but when the dust settles it’s incumbent on us to work together,” Klein said, adding: “I think it’s premature to say what anyone is going to do until the dust settles.”
The IDC leader also sought to shore up his ties with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who in May backed a full Democratic takeover of the state Senate, but has since faced discontent from the labor-backed Working Families Party over his newly formed Women’s Equality Party.
In a clear overture to Cuomo, Klein criticized those on “the extreme left” who have been critical of the governor, saying such statements hurt the Democratic ticket.
Klein and his four-member IDC formed a majority coalition with Senate Republicans in the aftermath of the 2012 elections, when neither of the conferences had a clear advantage in the chamber.
As a result, the move allowed for Senate Republicans – then in a numerical minority – to retain most of the trappings of the majority.
The move angered liberals and progressive advocacy groups, who vowed to run primary challenges against the IDC.
Some of those challenges were put on ice in June, when Klein and the mainline Democratic conference struck an agreement to form a new majority coalition after Election Day.
However, the pre-agreement primary challenges from former city Councilman Oliver Koppell aimed at Klein, and former city Comptroller John Liu versus IDC Sen. Tony Avella in Queens, did not end. And while the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee ostensibly pulled the plug on those challenges, some mainline conference members still support Koppell and Liu.
Nevertheless, Klein himself backed a primary challenge to a mainline conference members, contributing funds to Betty Jean Greant, who unsuccessfully ran against Buffalo Democratic Sen. Tim Kennedy.
Klein today indicated he was not pleased with the continued support for those primary campaigns, saying there are some members of the Democratic conference who will “always disrupt the apple cart.”
Meanwhile, Klein and his conference’s political action committee has been seeking to grow the IDC.
The group’s PAC has helped fund an independent expenditure committee that’s supporting Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Republican who lost his GOP primary in September, but retains the Independence party line. Klein and IDC members also gave $40,000 to Sen. George Latimer last month as well.
Still, Klein aligning himself once again with Senate Republicans presents risks.
Come 2016, the primary challenges from the left will once again come and it’s unlikely they will be ended by any promises of a deal. With the potential for Hillary Clinton at the top of the presidential ticket, it’s likely the GOP hold on the state Senate would face a serious challenge once again.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on November 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm, and is filed under Jeff Klein. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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