ALBANY—Since they were both in the same room yesterday, I took Assemblyman Mark Schroeder's suggestion and asked State Senators Antoine Thompson and Bill Stachowski—all three men are Democrats from Buffalo—whether they agreed with Schroeder that Senator Pedro Espada Jr. is a "thug" and should resign as his chamber's majority leader.
"No, I don't share his sentiments," Thompson told me. "It was the will of our body, and we have three leaders: We have a president of the Senate the same way the Assembly has a speaker of the Assembly; we have a majority leader who is Pedro Espada the same way Ron Canestrari is the majority leader in the assembly, and I support our leadership."
"I think he has a right to say what he feels, but I'm a little concerned that one house attacks the other house, but that's his choice," Thompson said. "I don't believe he's a thug."
I asked Thompson why he thought Schroeder might be saying these things—several political sources have indicated that he's laying the groundwork for a primary run against Stachowski. While the most senior Democrat in the chamber, Stachowski was passed over for the chairmanship of the Finance Committee in favor Senator Carl Kruger. In a closer-than-expected election, which took Democratic money and staffers (that some grouse could have been used to win seats elsewhere), Stachowski campaigned on the presumption that he would get the chairmanship.
Thompson didn't answer. I asked Stachowski the same question.
"I don't know that, I can't answer that—all I can tell you is that when I asked him about it he said no," Stachowski told me. In a brief conversation, Schroeder confirmed this, saying there was "no truth" to rumors of a primary challenge. When I asked if he would rule one out in 2010, he said "yes."
Stachowski did not agree with Schroeder's sentiments on Espada.
"That's Assemblyman Schroeder's position," the not-ever-effusive Stachowski said. "Last time I checked, the Constitution gives the freedom of speech to anybody."
As to the Buffalo office, which Espada controls, Stachowski said that "I don't have control of the Buffalo office. That's not my position. I control my office in Buffalo."