State Senator Jeff Klein of the Bronx is looking to have his breakaway Independent Democratic Conference be recognized as a permanent fixture in the state Senate, opening up the possibility that members could head committees. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
Jeff Klein finds himself in the driver's seat. With neither Republicans nor Democrats currently holding enough seats to form a majority coalition in the State Senate, Klein's Independent Democratic Conference or IDC could tip the balance by caucusing with one party over the other.
But Klein says he wants a third way.
"The way I envision it working is to have an Independent Democratic Conference leader, a Democratic leader, as well as a Republican leader," he said. "Then, the coalition government can be formed."
The IDC is proposing that it becomes a permanent third conference in the senate. Assuming control of the agenda would require two of the three conferences, similar to a parliamentary system of government.
"We don't have to empower anyone," Klein said. "First of all, I think our agenda empowers the people."
But Democrats say that's not going to work. Critics say if IDC members are Democrats, they should conference with their own party. New York State cast a majority of its votes for Democrats in the senate this year.
"I'm not familiar with any IDC ballot line at the ballot box," said State Senator Michael Gianaris. "People vote for people based on whether they believe in Democratic values or Republican values, and I would suggest that people who were elected as Democrats should respect the people that elected them."
"I don't know what that means," Klein said. "I know what it means to me. It means to me that I know I am a Democrat and I'll always be a Democrat. And I know that I want to move a Democratic legislative agenda."
Governor Cuomo says he doesn't want to return to the dysfunction that existed the last time Democrats were in the majority. But for now, he's staying out of it.