Governor Andrew Cuomo touted the reunification of New York State Senate Democrats, bringing ostensibly erstwhile rivals Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Jeff Klein together in a press conference. Stewart-Cousins, the head of the “mainline” Senate Democrats and Klein, head of the Independent Democratic Conference or IDC, pledged unity and cooperation during a press conference Wednesday in Cuomo’s Manhattan office.
Klein and his fellow IDC members have aligned themselves with the Senate Republicans for the past seven years, giving the Republicans control of the Senate without holding a majority. Cuomo has been bitterly criticized by many Democrats for effectively supporting Republican control of the Senate, and has appeared quite comfortable with the arrangement. His view has recently changed, as he faces a Democratic primary opponent in his reelection this year and as the state has continued its political demographic evolution into an ever-increasingly Democratic state. It’s been reported that Cuomo arranged a midtown meeting Tuesday to press Stewart-Cousins, Klein and their respective conferences into reunifying.
Although this a significant step it’s far the final piece of the story, however. The 63 seat Senate currently has a total of 30 Democrats, combining the “mainline” and IDC, with two vacancies set be filled in special elections on April 24th. Democratic victories in both special elections would give the Dems a nominal majority of 32, but there is yet another hurdle to Democratic control. Senator Simcha Felder is nominally a Democrat but has conferenced with the Republicans since he took office in 2013. (He has not been a member of the IDC.) He has yet to say what he’ll do concerning his conference allegiance in the post-IDC era.