ALBANY – Let the theorizing begin.
A renegade group of state Senate Democrats, which broke with their conference to form an independent group that often sides with Republicans, has made an eye-opening donation: $6,500 to Sen. Tim Kennedy, a Buffalo Democrat.
Kennedy, not a part of the group, has appeared often in press briefings with his fellow Senate Democratic conference at the Capitol and often votes with Senate Democrats.
So, the $6,500 from the Independent Conference Committee given on August 21: Does it mean something broader, like Kennedy leaving the door open to joining the group?
Add in the $6,500 donated to Kennedy on the same day by Sen. Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat who heads the independent caucus, and the intrigue grows a bit more.
Kennedy did not immediately return a call for comment. The donation was reported today in Board of Elections filings. [UPDATE: Kennedy just called to say he is a "proud Democrat and I'm going to remain a member of the Democratic conference.'' He said the support from Klein's group is "an indication that Democrats can and will unite behind their common vision.'']
But Klein, who helped the freshman Kennedy win his first election to the Senate, said there have been no discussions with the Buffalo Democrat about joining the breakaway group. “I think he’s a great senator. He’s been a pleasure to work with,'' Klein said this afternoon.
Democratic sources say Kennedy gave advance word to Senate Democratic leaders that the money from the IDC and Klein was coming and that his loyalty rests with the Democratic conference.
Still, Klein, a political chess player who fancies himself thinking several moves at once, is clearly either trying to stir up some trouble for Senate Democratic leaders or planning for future possible defections depending on the outcome of the November elections – or both.
Klein said his group is also backing another Senate Democrat who is not part of the IDC: Senator Adriano Espaillat of Manhattan.
-- Tom Precious