Ex-Councilman Oliver Koppell Moves Closer to Challenging Jeff Klein

Oliver Koppell. (Photo: Facebook)

Oliver Koppell. (Photo: Facebook)

Former Bronx Councilman Oliver Koppell is still mulling a challenge of State Senator Jeff Klein.

In an interview today, Mr. Koppell warned he might pull the trigger if Mr. Klein, the leader of the Senate’s breakaway Democratic faction, doesn’t rejoin the main Democratic caucus.

“I am thinking about it. I haven’t made a decision,” Mr. Koppell told Politicker. “Senator Klein should rejoin the Democratic conference. If he did, then I wouldn’t run.”

Mr. Koppell’s interview followed an unusual statement he blasted out ripping into Mr. Klein after Republican State Senator Dean Skelos, the co-majority leader, said he will not allow a vote on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to hike taxes on high income earners to fund universal prekindergarten.

Mr. Klein has endorsed Mr. de Blasio’s proposal, but Mr. Koppell, whose named surfaced as a possible Klein challenger last summer, argued that if Democrats controlled the Senate, the plan would definitely pass.

“The only reason Senator Skelos is allowed to block this and other progressive legislation is because of his backroom deal with Senator Jeff Klein,” read Mr. Koppell’s statement. “As a former Councilmember who represented much of Senator Klein’s Senate District and a current resident of this district, I call upon Senator Klein to immediately renounce his self-serving agreement with Senator Skelos and rejoin the Democratic Conference.”

Mr. Koppell, a former attorney general who also once served in the Assembly, told Politicker he has been in talks with Senate Democrats about the possibility of running against Mr. Klein, but would not say exactly when he plans to make the final call. Still, he implied he would make a formidable candidate.

“I hope I don’t need to do it. It can be avoided by the senator, if he does the right thing,” Mr. Koppell said.

Mr. Klein, who is unlikely to give up his plum post on his own volition, did not immediately return a request for comment. In the past, Mr. Klein has stressed the importance of bipartisanship to accomplish significant legislative victories in Albany.

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