Sunday, December 21, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: A Dark Day for the State GOP

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It's official (almost) – the Italian-style parliamentary government that has run the State Senate for the last year-and-a-half is going arrivederci.

Courtesy of Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and a host of labor unions, the Senate's Odd Couple of Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein is being cancelled, creating the possibility that the State Republican party will become our modern-day equivalent of the Whigs.

While the State Assembly and every statewide office has been controlled by the Democrats for the last seven years, the Senate Republicans have stubbornly held onto power for decades – except for a brief period of time where Malcolm Smith was sort of running things. (He's now facing federal bribery charges.) Although there are more Democrats in the Senate than Republicans, Jeff Klein created a splinter group that formed a coalition leadership group in the Senate with Republican leader Dean Skelos.

While government trudged on in Albany, some of the governor's big-ticket agenda items haven't been getting crossed off his list. Campaign finance reform, a slew of women's equality bills, and legislation to help illegal immigrants have all gone to the Senate to die in committee.

Cuomo was following in the footsteps of his father – who seemed content for twelve years to blame Senate Republicans for inactivity in the State Capitol while never trying to upend the apple cart that weighed him down.

Should the Democrats sweep the elections this November, they will have an unprecedented chance to set the state's direction for at least the next two years. But it also takes away any excuses Cuomo can make for things not getting done in Albany.

State Republicans have a little more than four months to rally support or face the very real prospect of being almost entirely shut out of the political conversation of New York.

He who lives by the deal with Jeff Klein, dies by Jeff Klein.

Bob Hardt

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