After State Senator John Sampson was arrested for his alleged involvement in a bribery scheme this morning, the lawmaker who replaced Mr. Sampson as the head of the Senate’s Democratic conference, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, acted swiftly by stripping him of rank and privilege.
“These allegations are deeply disturbing,” Ms. Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.
Earlier this week, State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins was elected to be the next leader of the Senate’s Democratic conference, but, even though Democrats will have a numerical majority in the chamber, a breakaway group of Democrats will place Ms. Stewart-Cousins’ caucus in the minority. Some partisans and activists have criticized New York’s top Democrat, Governor Andrew Cuomo for not intervening in the matter or even expressing support on his party’s behalf, but in a pair of TV appearances last night, Ms. Stewart-Cousins argued attention should instead be focused on his agenda, which “coincidentally” is hers as well.
“I met with the governor today, he wanted to talk to me and I brought colleagues with me,” she said on Inside City Hall. “We did have a good conversation, we had an open discussion. We talked about the state of the state. We talked about his legislative priorities. Coincidentally, many of his priorities are ours as well. There wasn’t a conversation about anger; there was a reality about the fact that Democrats are in a position to, again, to create an agenda and make it happen. I think he wants to make sure it gets done.”
changing the guard
Earlier this evening, the Senate Democratic Conference officially gave the boot to John Sampson and handed their top leadership position to Westchester’s Andrea Stewart-Cousins. In order to stress their unity, the Senate Democrats sent out a press release with almost every member of their conference touting Ms. Stewart-Cousins’s credentials and prospects going forward. They even included a statement from “Senator-Elect Cecilia Tkaczyk,” whose opponent just declared victory in a race the Democrats are still contesting.
For his part, Mr. Sampson took the news humbly, simply saying, “I look forward to working with Leader Stewart Cousins as we move the Democratic Conference forward serving all New Yorkers. The people of New York want a progressive and democratic agenda and that is what the Democratic Conference under the leadership of Senator Stewart Cousins will provide.”
Hell hath no fury like a county organization scorned.
Multiple Democratic insiders confirmed to Politicker that Queens State Senator Malcolm Smith, the fifth member of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, could face a primary challenger in 2014. Mr. Smith, it should be noted, has flirted with running for mayor as a Republican and is not going out of his way to strengthen his Democratic bonafides.
“It’s clear that Malcolm Smith is on his last term in the Senate,” said one source. “Caucusing with Republicans is not a viable tactic.”
up with criticism
MSNBC host Chris Hayes isn’t done with Governor Andrew Cuomo, at least not yet. Mr. Hayes, who blasted “New York’s supposedly Democratic governor” last week for failing to support Democratic control of the New York State Senate, revisited the topic again yesterday to argue Mr. Cuomo is knowingly undermining his stated ideological interests.
“Well, I agree!” Mr. Hayes said after playing a clip of the governor dismissing his criticism, calling for a policy-oriented discussion instead of a partisan one.
Tells us how you really feel, Councilman Lew Fidler.
Mr. Fidler, who yesterday criticized Senator-elect Simcha Felder for vowing to cross party lines and caucus with the Republicans, took another pass this afternoon in a lengthy statement where he demanded Mr. Felder himself answer questions about the decision.
“Simcha is correct that the parties are not a religion, nor should they be,” Mr. Fidler wrote. “But being open and honest with the voters should be.”
Although most of the attention last night was rightfully placed on the presidential race, a number of important state legislative campaigns were also waged, which, depending on how they turn out, could potentially have a significant impact on the legislation and policies that emerge out of Albany in the coming years. Notably, control of the New York State Senate hangs in the balance, and if Democrats win there, the party would control the trifecta of the state government as they already have an overwhelmingly majority in the State Assembly and a similarly aligned governor.
With one temporary exception, the senate has been continuously controlled by the GOP in recent years. Despite a large fundraising edge and an aggressive gerrymander which appeared to have locked in a Republican majority for the immediate future, a number of surprisingly strong Democratic victories pushed back against the conventional wisdom that they had no chance at reversing their fortunes this year,
Assemblyman Karim Camara, who was for a time the one hope reformers had to block Frank Seddio from succeeding Vito Lopez as the head of the Kings County Democratic Party, officially backed Mr. Seddio this afternoon in a move to unify the party right before the vote to replace Mr. Lopez. Barring a large meteor striking the planet or a something of that magnitude, Mr. Seddio now seems all but certain to be the new leader of the Kings County Democratic establishment.
It’s Election Day in New York next Thursday! But instead of a titanic battle between ideologies–your Mitt Romneys vs. Barack Obamas, if you will–the options on the ballot will be little-noticed state legislative contests between candidates of the same party, often with few policy differences.
However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some exciting races happening. From “Who Gets Arrested for Raping a Grandmother?” to “Assemblywoman Caught Up in Sex Scandal with Two Young Men,” there’s been no shortage of nasty drama and mud slinging as voters head to the polls.
Here’s a breakdown of who’s running and why it might matter who wins. The list below focuses on Democratic races because the few Republican primaries in this staunchly blue city tend to have clear favorites or are taking place in such Democratic territory that the victor is reasonably likely to be irrelevant.
Legislators in North Carolina have proposed a bill aimed at making sure there will be enough booze at September’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Under current North Carolina law, state-run liquor stores, which are the only source for hard alcohol in the state, must be closed on Sundays and on Labor Day, the day before the convention is scheduled to start. The bill would allow the stores to remain open on Labor Day to prevent bars and restaurants from running out of booze due to the combined imbibing of holiday weekend revelers and early DNC arrivals.