Libous Conviction and What It Means for the Balance of Power in Senate
NEW YORK CITY -- After a week-and-a-half-long trial, Tom Libous became the latest casualty in Albany's culture of corruption when he was convicted of lying to FBI investigators during a corruption probe involving his son. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has worked closely with Libous despite being from different parties, was supportive during a radio interview.
"He's been battling cancer and showing up for work and showing a strength and a courage that I found admirable. He never stopped serving the people," Cuomo said.
By law, Libous automatically loses his Senate seat, leaving a vacancy, and that makes an already-confusing situation even more in flux. Strictly by party registration, the state Senate currently is an exact tie. There are 31 Republicans and 31 Democrats. Thirty-two seats are needed for a controlling majority.
Because a five-member faction of Democrats known as the IDC has splintered off from the mainline Democrats, the actual breakdown in the Senate by conference becomes 32 Republicans, 25 Democrats and 5 IDC members. Republicans gain an extra vote because one of the Democrats conferences with Republicans.
"Probably no big change because we have a pseudo-Republican in Simcha Felder, who is actually a Democrat from Brooklyn but who sits with the Republicans," said John Kaehny of Reinvent Albany.
Cuomo is expected to call a special election for Libous' seat. He has already endorsed his former Department of Motor Vehicles commissioner, Barbara Fiala.
Heading into the 2016 elections, Senate Democrats are confident they will have a big showing, especially with potentially former New York Sen. Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket in a presidential year, but the IDC could still be the key to governing, and they have already shown a willingness to side with Republicans.