ALBANY—Over bagels and cheese grits with Frank Sinatra crooning in the background, the “four amigos” made a spectacle of their continued discussions about the leadership struggle in the State Senate.
“The only thing I can say is that my colleagues and I are here to find a solution,” State Senator Hiram Monserrate, a Queens Democrat who is now back sitting with the Democratic conference, said. “I think we’re going to find a way to resolve this by Thursday.”
The foursome–which also includes Democrats Carl Kruger and Ruben Diaz Sr. as well as Pedro Espada Jr.–met yesterday for lunch before a long meeting of the Democratic conference. At that meeting, one Democratic senator told me, there was discussion led by Monserrate about how Espada could be brought back into the conference. His defection to the Republican conference on June 8 with Monserrate–and his supposed election as president pro tempore of the chamber–sparked the dispute that has hobbled state government for a month.
The discussion did not go well, the senator said, and some members of the conference remain stridently opposed to working with Espada in any context. When asked about this possibility after breakfast, Espada stress that he was still a Democrat and shared a common legislative agenda with Democrats.
“I am just engaged right now as a senator is engaged with a decisive force that, I think, truly wants to bring an end to this madness. We’ve participated in being a decisive force before, so it would be little news to do it again,” he said. An earlier deal discussed would have made Espada the vice president pro tempore of the chamber. When asked if he would accept a reduced role, Espada replied, “would you ask anybody who has enough electoral college votes for president to serve as vice president?”
I think the issue is, decide the matter by Thursday and, I repeat: if there’s anyone that’s gaining votes for their position, it’s Pedro Espada Jr.,” he said. “There’s such a thing as extra innings, but ultimately he game comes to an end. We’re in the extra-inning zone.”