Klein on IDC Coaliton: “I Hope That Continues”
From NY1’s Zack Fink, currently in San Juan, Puerto Rico covering the Somos el Futuro Conference
In an exclusive interview with Time Warner Cable News, Thursday, IDC Leader Jeff Klein said he’s hoping to continue the faction’s coalition with Republicans in the state senate, despite the outcome of Tuesday’s election. This comes as Republicans take a definitive majority in the state senate, regardless of any support the IDC may or may not end up providing to their caucus.
“I’ve had a great working relationship with Senator Skelos. I hope that continues. And I hope he agrees with me. That a coalition government was not only good over the last couple of years, but is something that works really, really well in the months and years ahead.”
Klein has been a pivotal player in Albany since the Independent Democratic Conference was formed in 2011. There are currently five Democrats sitting with the IDC, which may soon be expanded to six if Klein is able to convince newly elected State Senator Jesse Hamilton to join his ranks.
Republican Leader Dean Skelos said earlier this week in an interview on The Capitol Pressroom that he hasn’t made a decision to keep an agreement with the IDC yet, but says he’ll be meeting with Klein in the coming days to discuss their future.
That’s a complicated future after Klein has been met with criticism over spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to re-elect Senator Mark Grisanti, who lost his primary to Republican Kevin Stocker in September. Grisanti continued to run on the Independence Party line but ultimately lost that race to Democrat Marc Panepinto by less than 4 thousand votes. Klein blames that loss on the role of independent expenditures.
“Resources were not an issue. This was pretty even. You had the real estate industry. You had the charter school folks. But then you had the labor unions on the other end helping the Democrats. The amount of money spent in these independent expenditures was obscene.”
Panepinto was a wild card upstate compared to the three freshman democrats who lost their seats in the senate to Republican challengers. Some have suggested Governor Cuomo didn’t do enough to help members of his own party upstate, but Cuomo said in an interview on The Capitol Pressroom Thursday that his support, or lack thereof, had nothing to do with it.
“I think it’s unfortunate that they are finger pointing. I don’t think it was about that as I said. I think it was about a national phenomenon. We didn’t have any state energy that was driving anything.”
Without a majority in the state senate, progressive legislation will have fewer opportunities to make it to the governor’s desk, including bills like the DREAM Act, which would provide tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants and the abortion plank to the Women’s Equality Agenda.
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