Democrats ready to unite in NY Senate

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – It has been close to seven years since the Independent Democratic Committee formed, breaking away from the Democratic Party in the Senate.

On Monday the state’s Democratic party sent a letter to Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Senate Democratic Leader, and Senator Jeff Klein, the Independent Democratic Committee leader, urging them that now is the time for the party to be unified.

Very Quickly, Senator Stewart-Cousins responded agreeing that they would be willing to reach a compromise with the IDC, saying “there is too much at stake for New Yorkers to wait any longer for their wishes to be fulfilled.”

Late Tuesday, the state’s Independent Democratic Committee leader announced that they would be accepting the re-unification terms, saying that “the State Party’s assurance that our progressive legislative agenda will be advanced is a victory for the people of New York.”

Why does this matter? The IDC has effectively blocked many key progressive agenda items such as the development of a single-payer health care system, abortion protections, and even campaign finance reforms. If the IDC becomes a part of the Democratic Party, they have a shot at gaining control of both houses. However, there are a few more hurdles the party still has to overcome.

“The majority is a razor thin majority between Republicans and Democrats and the two open seats tilts the tables against the Democrats,” Blair Horner, Executive Director of NYPIRG, said.

“This is one of the biggest obstacles. The Democrats will have to win both special elections to fill the two Senate vacancies. Only then will there be enough Democrats to control the majority. These special elections will most likely not take place until after the state budget negotiations in March.

“The Governor has the authority to call the special election whenever he wants. There have been years when he’s been governor where the seats were just left vacant for more than a year.”

This delay has drawn criticism that this would only allow for a Republican-controlled budget. The Republicans also announced that they have every intention of winning these two Senate seats to keep their majority.

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