Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed today that he already asked State Senator Jeff Klein–an ally in his fight to secure universal prekindergarten funding–to rejoin the Democratic conference.
Mr. Klein leads a breakaway faction of Democrats that govern the senate with the GOP–Mr. de Blasio wants this power-sharing agreement scrapped for Democratic rule. When pressed at an unrelated press conference, Mr. de Blasio said he “absolutely” asked Mr. Klein to return to the Democratic fold.
“I’m very happy he did [fight for pre-K funding] and I praised him for his efforts but we’re talking about a whole host of issues that are crucial to the people of New York City,” Mr. de Blasio, speaking about Mr. Klein, told the Observer. “Minimum wage, public financing of elections, women’s rights issues.”
“This current senate leadership in general has not been sympathetic to New York City,” he added. “And it’s time for a change.”
Reports have surfaced that Mr. de Blasio is reaching out to challengers interested in taking on the five members of the Independent Democratic Conference. While at least some of the challengers floated in the reports are highly unlikely to take the plunge, sources say, the move to target Mr. Klein in particular represents a 180 degree turn from the state budget battle several months ago when he leaned on Mr. Klein to push his priorities.
But the Republicans who partially control the chamber have been cool to Mr. de Blasio’s agenda, irking the Democratic mayor. After brokering a deal to land Gov. Andrew Cuomo the Working Families Party’s endorsement this weekend, the mayor and governor declared publicly that they would work to achieve a Democratic senate majority.
Mr. Klein, already fending off a Democratic challenger, said through a spokeswoman he had not spoken with Mr. de Blasio about any “political deals.”
“Senator Klein has not spoken to the Mayor about making any political deals. Senator Klein will not walk away from his record on core Democratic values including passing the toughest gun laws in the nation, marriage equality, an increase to the minimum wage, and funding universal pre-k,” said Candice Giove, a spokeswoman for Mr. Klein. “He looks forward to a healthy debate in his upcoming primary.”