Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith—who Mr. Bruno once described as a “wholly owned subsidiary” of the governor—put the best face on the turmoil the latest Spitzer proposal has inflicted on his members.
In a written statement e-mailed by a spokesman, Mr. Smith said, “I am discussing the Governor’s latest proposal with our Conference. Clearly our members represent various constituencies who have different interests and concerns. As a result, we do not have a unified position on this issue, which I think is an encouraging sign of our members’ diverse points of view expressed during four hours of debate during last week’s special session. Personally, I stick by my vote in support of the Governor’s original plan.”
But the special relationship, to judge by the members’ comments, may be somewhat less special in the future. “I think in future negotiations, if we’re provided the information at that point and time, then we can make a decision on how we’re going to proceed,” said Mr. Sampson.
“Right now I’m focused on working my district, so I really don’t have much of a thought on that,” said Craig Johnson, a state senator from Nassau County who Mr. Spitzer worked hard to elect earlier this year, when asked about the implications of Mr. Spitzer’s decision-making on future negotiations with his conference.
Asked to comment for this story, Spitzer spokeswoman Christine Anderson sent over the following statement: “The Governor doesn’t expect everyone to agree with his politics or process. His first responsibility remains the safety and security of New Yorkers. We can argue about the failed national immigration policy all we want, but the Governor is the one person responsible for confronting the reality of 1 million undocumented people living in the shadows.”
Mr. Serrano, who defended Mr. Spitzer’s original position on CNN and said he got hate mail from viewers, was one official who said he’d be willing to put aside his animus for the longer-term sake of the cause.
“While I’m disappointed, it’s totally counterproductive for any of us who are disappointed to get into a whole fight with Eliot when the real culprits were the opposition: Joe Bruno, the Lou Dobbses of the world,” Mr. Serrano said, referring to the CNN host who has made this a nightly issue.
But not all of the governor’s Democratic colleagues in Albany seem quite as prepared to move on.
“It’s going to be very difficult to trust the governor in anything he says,” Mr. Diaz said. “He’s going to have to be very clear, in black and white, before I join him in anything.”