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State Democratic leaders split on Senate deal; Cuomo seeks to avoid choosing sides

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – A terrible coup or a good thing? If you are a New York Democrat tonight, it's time to choose sides.

Senate Democrats who saw their dream of taking over the Senate evaporate today with a power-sharing deal cut by Republicans and five independent Democrats call the arrangement nothing more than a hostile takeover.

But Democrats close to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who did not work to help Senate Democrats take over power from the Republicans he has worked with the past two years, have a different spin. Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat, was among the sharpest critics, noting the coalition includes "past failed leaders,'' a reference to Independent Democratic Conference Committee leader Jeff Klein who held a top post during the Senate Democratic control a few years ago and Malcolm Smith, the former Senate Democratic leader who today joined the IDC.

But Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, the co-chair of the state Democratic Party, this evening talked of the days when the Senate was “dogged by dysfunction.’’ [She didn’t mention which days those were, but any Albany observer knows things were pretty rough when Democrats held power amidst internal battles for the final two years of the Paterson administration.]

“We want a government that works,’’ Miner said in an interview when asked about today’s deal to keep the Republicans partially in control of the Senate with the help of five Democrats who have broken with their Democratic colleagues in the chamber.

Asked about some Democrats who are likening the deal to a “coup,’’ Miner said she was not going to get into a war of word selection over an issue, she acknowledged, has “strong emotions.’’

But, said the Cuomo ally, Democrats all want a “functional government that solves problems’’ and she praised the arrangement to have the sides “come together’’ to having a working legislative body.

It took a few hours, but the Cuomo administration had its own take on things tonight, and a spokesman’s statement seeks to not have the governor choose sides. [Cuomo has already been criticized by Democrats for not working to help his party re-take control of the Senate.]

“This is an internal legislative matter. The most important thing is to have a functional Senate that passes the governor’s progressive agenda to advance the state of New York. The governor will withhold judgment until he sees how the Senate functions and acts on critical issues facing the state,’’ said Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto.

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

tprecious@buffnews.com


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | jterreri@buffnews.com


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | jzremski@buffnews.com

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