It’s a messy morning victory dance for State Senate Democrats, where it seems like their favorite move is one step forward and two steps back. Despite winning both special elections last night and now holding a numeric majority in the Senate, Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder played spoiler even before the votes were counted, declaring in the afternoon that he’s staying put and casting his lot with the GOP.
Felder is a powerful majority of one, but his status could be short-lived if the Democrats pick up just another Senate seat this November. A basement office could be in his future next year.
Since 1938, Republicans have had a stranglehold on the Senate with a few exceptions, including an infamous 2009 "coup" in which four Democrats jumped ship to the GOP's side.
If Democrats ever regain the majority, their internal challenge will be to create and enforce party discipline rather than just allow their senators to roam around like a bunch of loose kittens. After all, we're only weeks into the burying of the hatchet between two warring groups of Democrats, which helped Republicans rule the Senate for the last seven years.
Supposedly, New York’s big Democrat in charge is Governor Cuomo, but will he actually twist Felder's arm and demand that he embrace his colleagues or renounce his party? In a tight primary race with Cynthia Nixon, Cuomo's challenge right now is to get his party in lockstep. Otherwise, he could be caught in his own awkward dance in September.