Smith Suspends Negotiations, Prepares for Life in the Minority if Necessary

ALBANY—State Senator Malcolm Smith just announced he is ceasing negotiations with three rebellious members of the Democratic conference, even if that means driving them to the other side and tipping the balance of power back to the Republicans in the Senate.

“When we first started out, the discussion was about reform and changing the government,” Smith said, saying that negotiations were suspended “effective immediately.”

“That’s the way this conference has always been. But over time, those conversations started to be more about self interest and self-aggrandizement,” he added, saying that he made the decision after consulting with the 28 members who had been supporting him for Senate majority leader all along. He also said that “real reform cannot and should not ever include limiting the civil rights of any New Yorker.”

“I’m not sure they are going to come back and talk to me. They may decide to go to the other side of the aisle. I don’t know.”

I asked Smith if he was driving the Gang of Three – Senators Carl Kruger, Ruben Diaz Sr. and Senator-elect Pedro Espada Jr. – to the Republicans. He said no, but when pushed about remaining in the chamber’s minority, said, “my members are prepared for that.”