Senate Dem Leadership Battle Brewing
The internal power struggle among the conference of what Albany observers have taken to calling “regular” Senate Democrats – those left behind by the six who defected to align with the GOP – is close to a boiling point and could come to a head as early as tomorrow, insiders say.
The question is whether Minority Leader John Sampson will be able to retain his leadership post, which he obtained at the height of the 2009 coup – ironically, deposing Sen. Malcolm Smith, who is the IDC’s newest member.
Keeping the leadership in African-American hands, where it has been since former Gov. David Paterson deposed ex-Sen. Marty Connor back in 2003, is very important to the black senators.
A group of them met today, according to a source briefed on the get-together, and all but one present agreed to continue supporting Sampson.
The holdout, this source said, is Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
The Westchester County lawmaker has been mentioned over the past several months as a possible “compromise” leadership candidate to bridge the gap between those who support Sampson and those who believe it’s time for a change.
The source believes the Brooklyn lawmaker will end up with sufficient support to remain in power – though it could be an uphill battle – and counts about 10 members solidly in his camp – seven of the eight black senators (although not all of them attended the meeting, as noted above) and three of the Latinos (Martin Dilan, Adriano Espaillat, and Diaz Sr.)
But Sampson needs 14 votes to remain in the leader’s chair.
There has been a lot of speculation about Sen. Mike Gianaris, who headed up the DSCC this past election cycle (Sampson gave him that job after ousting IDC head Jeff Klein) and managed to – at least numerically speaking – bring the Democrats into the majority despite being vastly out-spent by Republicans running in gerrymandered districts they drew for themselves.
But Gianaris, a former assemblyman from Queens, is white, making him a tough sell for many black and Latino members.
Hence, Stewart-Cousins’ candidacy.
According to my source, Stewart-Cousins could likely count on the support of 10 members, too. And that leaves a small group – six, to be exact – of so-called “battleground” senators up for grabs.
By my source’s calculations, those in-the-middle senators include three of the newly-elected members – Ted O’Brien, Terry Gipson and Brad Hoylman.
Also possibly in play: Sens. Neil Breslin (though he is Sampson’s No. 2 at the moment, and would potentially lose that post if Sampson loses his), Daniel Squadron (who’s gearing up for a potential 2013 run for NYC public advocate) and Tim Kennedy.
Sampson apparently wants to hold a vote tomorrow, my source said. But if he determines he doesn’t have sufficient votes, that might not occur.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on December 16, 2012 at 10:27 pm, and is filed under Democrats, Downstate NY, John Sampson, State Senate. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|