State Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins told radio listeners today she was still trying to convince State Senator Jeffrey Klein to hold to his promise to have his breakaway Independent Democratic Conference caucus with her mainline Democratic delegation–even as reports swirl of a deal for the IDC and GOP to form a coalition through 2016.
Ms. Stewart-Cousins, who before the sweeping GOP victories on Election Day looked forward to being co-majority leader with Mr. Klein, said on the Capitol Pressroom that she remains in talks with her colleague, a Bronx Democrat. The Democratic leader noted that–without Mr. Klein’s five-member coalition and Republican-caucusing Democrat Simcha Felder–Republicans only have a one-member advantage.
“I keep underscoring, it’s only one seat short of a majority, and I expect that will change and we will be able to govern,” Ms. Stewart-Cousins said, with a nod toward anticipated Democratic gains in two years. “I’m hoping we as Democrats will be able to work together, frankly. That has always been my hope and my desire, that the IDC and the mainstream Democrats will be able to come together and form a Democratic stronghold that will be able to govern.”
State of Politics reported that Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos was looking at forging a more permanent arrangement with Mr. Klein that would allow the IDC leader to retain the trappings and perquisites of co-majority leader–despite the Republican gains–in exchange for the Bronx senator’s agreement to stick with the GOP through the 2016 elections. Ms. Stewart-Cousins, however pointed to statements by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mr. Klein that they hoped to see total Democratic control of the state government in order to pass initiatives like a minimum wage increase and the Women’s Equality Act.
“First of all, you can understand why the Republicans would want a deal like that. It would negate elections, ‘okay, we’ll be in charge,’ whatever,” she said. “All of us Democrats understand that we work better when we work together. And we talked about having a majority, and the governor, he was certainly supportive of a Democratic majority, and Senator Klein said he was supportive of a Democratic majority, and all the members of the IDC.”
“So I can understand why the Republicans would want an arrangement like that, but I can’t believe that all of us that actually believed that a) that elections matter and they have consequences and b) when Democrats have a majority they should govern and do the things, by the way, that we’ve all talked about doing,” she added.
She continued that she believed it was still possible for the IDC and Democrats to cooperate in the upcoming session, which begins in January.
“I think the ideal for everyone is to find that place where we can come together and do what people expect,” Ms. Stewart-Cousins said. “Senator Klein and I are talking, have spoken, will continue to speak, and any other speculation that he would be part of a deal that will go on for years empowering Republicans is certainly nothing that I’ve hear from him, nor would it again, jive with what we’ve been talking about.”