Here’s this morning’s memo, in case you haven’t signed up yet. (You really should, and it’s easy! Just look for the button on our home page)…
So yesterday, something happened that we all pretty much accepted after the initial election night returns was a foregone conclusion: Republican Sen. Steve Saland officially conceded to his Democratic challenger Terry Gipson.
As the New York Times points out this morning, this outcome – lamented by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos as well as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who had crossed party lines to endorse Saland prior to the Nov. 6 elections – leaves just one GOP “yes” voter on last year’s same-sex marriage bill still standing: Buffalo’s Mark Grisanti (who, for the record, used to be a Democrat).
It also, as the New York Post noted, gave the Democrats – technically speaking – the majority of seats in the 63-seat chamber.
Except, of course, they don’t actually HAVE the majority, thanks to Senator-elect Simcha Felder’s decision to caucus with the Republicans and the now-five member IDC’s decision to strike a power-sharing deal with the GOP.
The so-called “regular” Democrats (those left behind by Felder and IDC leader Jeff Klein et al) have been lambasted with criticism from all sides pretty much ever since they lost their grip on the majority in 2010 after two roller-coaster years in power – a period that is most memorable for the 2009 coup that stalled state government for a full month.
Everyone from Klein to former Gov. David Paterson (who, by the way, knows a little something about dysfunction himself, since neither the government as a whole, nor the minority conference ran like a Swiss watch when he was in charge) have slammed the Democrats for their infighting and their general inability to lead.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo got in on the act last week when he penned a Times Union OpEd that accused the Democrats of squandering their opportunity to pass “significant reform legislation despite repeated promises” while they were in power.
That’s not quite true.
The Senate Democrats of 2008-2010 (not altogether the same bunch of people currently in the conference, by the way) certainly deserve their share of criticism.
Even before the coup – which, by the way, was engineered by two renegade Democrats now both headed to prison and the Senate Republican leadership team that is still in place – the Democrats were clearly not ready for prime time. After more than four decades out of power, their learning curve on even the day-to-day task of running the chamber smoothly was very steep.
There were countless very late nights when regular business in the chamber dragged on endlessly as the divided Democrats tried to get all their members onto the same page behind closed doors. And then when bills did get onto the floor, some of them were either yanked back due to lack of support, or failed outright.
That simply did not occur when the GOP was in charge. (It should be noted that some preferred the Democrats’ way, saying that no matter how messy it was, at least it was more small-d democratic than the lockstep Republican approach to governing).
Despite all that, things did actually get done during the Democrats’ stint in the majority. Legislation that definitely falls squarely under the heading of “progressive” – like Round II of Rockefeller Drug Law reform, no fault divorce (we were the last state in the nation to approve this), changing the way prisoners are counted for purposes of redistricting and Ian’s Law.
And that’s not all. Sen. Liz Krueger lays out quite a few more accomplishments in her own TU OpEd, which ran yesterday.
“I wanted to set the record straight it was a direct response to the governor’s OpEd,” Krueger told me during a CapTon interview last night. “I felt it was an unfair analysis of where we have been, where the Republicans have been, where we can go with the Democratic majority.”
“…I was actually there from 2008 through 2010, and I know exactly what we were successful in passing,” the Upper East Side senator continued.
“And in fact, I’ve been there since 2002, and I know what the Republican majority failed to pass and the direction they took the state in for over 42 years in the majority…Despite the chaos, despite the problems, we did a very impressive job in perhaps really one year out of two years in the majority.”
Krueger generally avoiding any overt criticism of the governor, though she did say he “might need a fact-checker on staff.” When I asked what she thinks his motivation might be in glossing over the Senate Democrats’ accomplishments, she replied:
“I’m frustrated, which is why I wrote the OpEd. I don’t know why. Perhaps he wasn’t the governor then, and he wasn’t paying that much attention to the actual bills that passed Democratic-controlled years versus Republican-controlled years.”
“…The Democratic majority in this state – and that includes the Assembly and the governor and Democrats in the Senate – have a responsibility to the voters to move forward and accomplish a progressive agenda, Democratic legislation. The governor and I may or may not agree on the best way to get there.”
“But it is clear to me that the voters have spoken, that they want the agenda passed that Democrats are talking about. And frankly, I think we will do better at accomplishing those goals with a Democratic majority in the Senate.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on December 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm, and is filed under Albany, Andrew Cuomo, Democrats, State Senate. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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