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State Senator Klein Launches Re-Election Bid

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State Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein, the head of the five-member Independent Democratric Conference who remains locked in power sharing agreement with Republicans for control of the Senate, kicked off his re-election campaign Tuesday in the Bronx. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

Just blocks from where he grew up, Jeff Klein held a backyard springtime campaign rally to announce his re-election bid.

"I always remember sitting around for the first time talking about politics at the dinner table and asking my grandfather why we were Democrats, and I'll never forget his response. He said, very simply, 'Because Democrats are people like us,'" Klein said.

As the head of the Independent Democratic Conference, or IDC, Klein has been criticized this year for failing to deliver on progressive legislation like campaign finance reform. However, the borough's top Democrats, who were on hand to endorse him, didn't seem terribly worried about that.

"There is not a case against him," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "So ladies and gentlemen, let's work together as one Bronx and let's re-elect state Senator Jeff Klein."

Klein remains part of the small leadership team in Albany that makes key decisions, a fact that isn't lost on some of his supporters in the legislature.

"There's very few of us who actually want to go where Jeff Klein has gone as being one of the leaders up in Albany who puts together the budget," said Assemblyman Michael Benedetto of the Bronx.

Klein said elections are won and lost on local issues.

"I don't think they care much about co-presidency. They just want somebody who delivers," he said.

Klein is facing a potential primary challenge from former City Councilman Oliver Koppell, who has strong name recognition in the Riverdale portion of the district. Koppell hasn't officially announced, but may do so next week.

"We're very close," Koppell said. "We're trying to put together a powerful campaign organization based on grassroots support."

Assuming there is a primary, insiders say the key to winning may not be the endorsements of local officials but unions, who will actually do the door-to-door canvassing. So far, Klein has secured the backing of the transit workers, the corrections officers, and the wholesale, retail and department store unions. Some big ones, though, are still up for grabs, including health care workers and 32BJ.

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