A group of breakaway Democrats in the state Senate is getting a new member, and that means yet more political turmoil in a body that is quite familiar with instability. Zack Fink filed the following report.
The breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, or IDC, will now have eight members with its newest addition, state Senator Jose Peralta of Queens.
"Look, this is a process. Like I said, I've been doing a lot of soul searching. And I reached that crossroads," Peralta said.
Despite holding a numeric majority, Democrats do not run the state Senate. The Republicans do, with a power-sharing arrangement with the IDC. That means both members of the IDC and Senate Republicans control the legislative agenda in the upper house.
By party registration, Democrats actually outnumber Republicans by 32 to 31 seats. But in practice, it's much different. Mainline Democrats now have 23 seats, Republicans 31 and the IDC 8. And Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder caucuses with the Republicans.
Peralta says joining the IDC is the best way to deliver for his Queens constituents.
"The political climate nowadays, especially being in the minority, will slow down my ability really to move issues forward. Issues that matter. Issues that I have been fighting for my entire political career," Peralta said. "Just recently, the homeless situation."
In a statement, a spokesperson for the mainline Senate Democrats, who are losing a member, says, "It's mind boggling that while on the national level Democrats are gearing up to resist the Trump Administration and its attempts to move the country backwards we have Democrats here in New York propping up an artificial Republican Majority."
Peralta's defection to the IDC is the second in three months. In November, we also first reported that Brooklyn Democrat Jesse Hamilton was joining the IDC.
IDC Leader Senator Jeff Klein was traveling Wednesday, but he praised Peralta's decision, saying "As the IDC grows again, this is another validation of our track record of getting things done. Together, we passed Paid Family Leave, a $15 minimum wage and delivered free universal pre-k to every child in the city."
The IDC has now doubled in size from when it first began seven years ago. Not only are they more ethnically diverse, but they now have representatives from every borough in the city.