ALBANY—The rumor that State Senator Jim Alesi, who just won his seventh term, will desert the Republicans to join a new Democratic majority in the state senate remains a rumor.
But not one Alesi is eager to tamp down. Calls to his Rochester office Friday and this morning seeking a comment on the rumor were not returned.
Out of a majority for the first time in 40 years, there's suddenly an incentive for Republicans senators to think about changing teams. The reward for the first one to pledge loyalty to a Democratic leader — particularly to Senator Malcolm Smith, who has not yet secured his status as the leader of the Majority Conference ahead of a January vote – could be considerable: they could be looked upon favorably with choice committee assignments or leadership stipends known as lulus.
Then again, voters have not acted kindly to senators who have flipped parties in the past.
Hugh Farley, a longtime colleague of Alesi's in the Republican conference, said he didn't think there was any basis to the rumor.
"I think a pig would fly first," said Farley. "I just know Jim Alesi – he's one of the most conservative, business-oriented people in the New York State Senate. I don't think he'd be comfortable in that Democrat conference."