Democrats Seek Unity in Blaming Republicans

ALBANY—Amid what they claim are ongoing negotiations with Republicans over how to resolve the leadership fight in the State Senate, leaders of the Democratic conference met with David Paterson to make sure they are all on the same page for where blame must fall.

“They refused to pass any legislation while we negotiate,” Senator John Sampson, a Brooklyn Democrat who is the “conference leader,” said of Republicans after meeting behind closed doors with Paterson. “This is not fair for the people of the State of New York. And the people of the State of New York need to understand that we Senate Democrats are not holding the legislation hostage.”

Senator Jeff Klein added: “We asked the governor to stop blaming us, start blaming the Espada coalition for not passing this legislation that we need.”

Klein and Sampson insisted that they will continue to negotiate with Republicans today. Klein said the short-term solution is to pass bills, and that they plan to actually act on bills put forward by Paterson in an extraordinary session tomorrow “only if the Republicans are there.” They would prefer to do so, of course, in a regular session so the Assembly does not have to come back into session.

Despite the insistence that this is a step backward in a process that saw partisan foes speaking side by side just days ago, it certainly doesn’t bode well for a quick agreement.