ALBANY –- There is no secret stamp on it. No drop of blood next to his signature. But a letter to the Legislature’s top Democrat from Michael Kearns, Western New York’s newest member of the Assembly, does make it clear he is a true Democratic believer.
Kearns, a Democrat, ran on the Republican line in his victory last week in a special election against Democrat Christopher Fahey. While he said he wanted to join with the Assembly Democrats in Albany, Kearns also made his opposition to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver quite loud in his campaign -– a move that did not sit well with rank-and-file Assembly members from around the state.
Kearns and Silver met last week and happy talk emerged from both sides.
But to join the Democratic conference –- and, therefore, to be a part of the power structure in the Assembly -– Kearns was told he needed to write an unusual letter stating how he will adhere to the Democratic principles of the Assembly conference. Officials stressed it was not a loyalty letter, but was being asked of Kearns for legal reasons because he ran as a Republican.
In his March 26 letter to Silver, Kearns noted, "it has always been and will continue to be my desire to become a member of the Assembly Democratic conference." He then noted his long Democratic Party ties.
Since his meeting with Silver, Kearns has been accepted into the Democratic conference, and has sat through several of the closed-door sessions as lawmakers and staff discussed the emerging state budget.
Kearns also has been given an office in the Legislative Office Building –- Room 431, with a modest view looking south on the other side of the Capitol –- and has been given the South Buffalo district office of Mark Schroeder, who left the Assembly to become city comptroller. Kearns has also given Silver a wish list of 11 committees on which he’d like to serve, most of which he knows he will not, given his freshman status, be given.