Reunited, and it feels so good
Apr 11, 2018 | 1531 views | 0 0 comments | 151 151 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pictured from left to right are (front) State senators Toby Ann Stavisky, Michael Gianaris, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Senator Jeff Klein, (back) Jessie Hamilton, Marisol Alcantara, John Brooks, Jamal Bailey, Todd Kaminsky, Diane Savino, Gustavo Rivera, Jose Peralta, Brian Kavanagh, and Kevin Parker. Notably absent: State Senator Tony Avella.
Pictured from left to right are (front) State senators Toby Ann Stavisky, Michael Gianaris, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Senator Jeff Klein, (back) Jessie Hamilton, Marisol Alcantara, John Brooks, Jamal Bailey, Todd Kaminsky, Diane Savino, Gustavo Rivera, Jose Peralta, Brian Kavanagh, and Kevin Parker. Notably absent: State Senator Tony Avella.
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After nearly seven years of disrupting the balance of power in the State Senate, the eight members of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) that enjoyed a power-sharing agreement with senate Republicans are now back in the fold of the Democratic Primary.

The deal means Andrea Stewart-Cousins will be the Senate Minority Leader and sole head of the reunited Democratic Party, and now-former IDC head Jeff Klein of the Bronx will serve as her deputy, taking over for Michael Gianaris of Queens.

The deal was brokered by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is facing a surprising challenge from actress Cynthia Nixon in the Democratic Primary.

Cuomo has done little to nothing to break up the IDC in the past, and has even been accused of brokering the deal with Republicans. In many cases it behooved him to have a divided legislature he could conveniently blame for stalling legislation and movement on issues that might be politically damaging to him.

Now that he has a challenger, we guess he saw fit to insulate himself from the possible attack that he gave his blessing to the IDC, effectively empowering Republicans.

And all of the eight IDC members are facing challengers of their own in the upcoming primaries, and probably felt, like Cuomo, that a reunification at this time was the politically expedient way to save their jobs.

With two special elections on April 24 to fill empty seats that could go to Democrats, IDC members perhaps began to realize that a shift in the makeup of the State Senate was happening with or without them and it was better to get on board now.

If Democrats are able to take those two seats, they would be one shy of the necessary 32-member majority. If Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, a registered Democrat who caucuses with the Republicans, were amenable to rejoining the fold, they would have the necessary seats to take control.

Felder himself admits he blows with the wind and likes to be with the party in power, so it's possible he would rejoin the Democrats if that were to happen.

But that doesn't mean the Democratic challengers are backing down. Candidates running against IDC members held a rally in Manhattan last week reiterating their desire to unseat the breakaway incumbents. And Nixon had this nugget regarding Cuomo and the IDC: "If you’ve set your own house on fire and watched it burn for eight years, finally turning on a hose doesn’t make you a hero."

So it's not likely the deal was part of some newfound desire to work together, but rather a job security strategy.

IDC members enjoyed a number of perks because of their involvement with the GOP, including more discretionary funding for their districts, taxpayer funds for conference staff, and assurances they wouldn't be challenged by Republicans in the general election – all hard things to just give up.

Four of the members also were appointed chairs of committees, which come with nice stipends, but no more!

State senators Marisol Alcantara, David Carlucci, Jesse Hamilton and Tony Avella lost their posts and were all quickly replaced by Republicans after the announcement.

The legislature reconvenes on April 16. It will be interesting to see how the new power structure holds up once it is put into practice.

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