Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Undoing the Vote - Felder Changes Party Alliance

Albany Times Union


Party switch key to GOP Senate control

Felder's move leaves GOP one vote from dominating chamber
Published 11:52 p.m., Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Standing next to photo of pipes covered with pigeon mess, Council Member Simcha Felder holds a press conference , Monday Nov. 12 , 2007, announcing legislation to ban feeding pigeons, City Hall, New York.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews) Photo: Bebeto Matthews / AP
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
ALBANY — Republicans took a step toward maintaining control of the state Senate majority Tuesday when a Brooklyn Democrat announced he would join their conference.

The announcement by Simcha Felder, an Orthodox Jew who met with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Long Island, earlier in the day, brings the GOP conference just one person shy of the 32 votes it needs to dominate what will be a 63-seat chamber.
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Felder's decision — announced in a statement to YNN's "Capital Tonight" — brings the GOP to 31 votes. Republicans are now pinning their hopes on Assemblyman George Amedore's race against Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk in the 46th District, which stretches from Amsterdam to Kingston through Albany and Greene counties. Amedore, R-Rotterdam, trailed Tkaczyk by 139 votes on election night. Elections officials in the five-county district began a recanvass of voting machines on Tuesday, which yielded no changes after a review in Albany and Schenectady counties.
Democrats remained confident Tkaczyk's lead, as well as those in several other races from last week, would hold.
"The voters sent a clear message on election night that they want the Senate led by a Democratic majority," said Mike Murphy, a Democratic spokesman. "We are confident that when the Senate convenes in January, there will be that Democratic majority and we look forward to working with Governor Cuomo to achieve the progressive agenda he has laid out."

There is another variable: The four-member Independent Democratic Conference. Democrats will not be able to assemble a 32-vote majority without securing the IDC, whose members seceded from the main body of the conference in January 2011, citing what they called "dysfunction." When Democrats held a thin majority in 2009 and 2010, legislative proceedings were often frustrated when Democratic leaders struggled to corral all 32 members for key votes.
The IDC's de facto leader, Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein, has been quiet about his intentions. While he and other Democrats have had sharp words for each other over the past 22 months, they — and Republicans — have been singing a softer tune since Election Day.