ALBANY—If there was anything to take away from Malcolm Smith’s truncated press conference, it was that even the actual members of the Democratic conference don’t know who will end up in charge of what.
The reports last week were that Malcolm Smith had agreed to a deal with the dissident Gang of Three, but there was immediate griping from the rest of the conference. Some of those senators met with Smith Saturday, and reportedly expressed concern that he had given away too much.
One immediate loser would have been Bill Stachowski, who was in line to take over the Finance Committee. That plum went to Kruger, seemingly extinguishing the hopes of Stachowski — and of the small upstate Democratic contingent.
As he was named deputy majority leader by Smith today, Stachowski explained his simple reasoning for taking the post: “Being deputy majority leader is ranked above finance, so I believe I am in a better position to help upstate.”
There’s no immediate word from Senator Jeff Klein, of the Bronx, who had previously held that post. Liz reported that he will be named vice president pro tempore, but it’s unclear what exactly that will mean.
If the deal still stands, Smith would serve as president pro tempore while Senator-elect Pedro Espada Jr. will be majority leader. Until now, the two titles had been occupied by the same person.
That led the Post’s Fred Dicker to grill Stachowski (see video below) on exactly whose deputy he will be. Stachowski largely punted on the question.
“The president pro temp on January 7 is going to be Malcolm Smith,” he said. “I answer to Senator Smith.”
Smith had run out “for a meeting outside the Capitol building” before the point could be clarified. We’re told he’ll be available to reporters at 1:30.