Espada GOP Coup in Albany? (UPDATE: Smith Out, Espada Sworn In)

Hmm: state senate Republicans have proposed to seat rebel Democrat Pedro Espada Jr. as "President pro tempore" of the senate, reports PolitickerNY, and to return former majority leader Dean Skelos, a Republican, to his old seat, replacing Democrat Malcolm Smith. (Update: Apparently they got away with it. See updates below.)

That pro tem title, you may recall, came up during the wheeling and dealing between the rebel "Gang of Three" led by Espada and Democratic management; that was supposed to be Smith's title in a power-sharing arrangement, with Espada being installed as majority leader. As it happened, Smith became majority leader and Espada contented himself with bennies for himself and his friends.

Espada, the loosest of loose cannons who caucused with the GOP back during his earlier state senate tenure, when the Republicans had a clear senate majority, is joined in this escapade by fellow Democrat and former Gang member -- and indicted girlfriend beater -- Hiram Monserrate, says PolitickerNY.

Update: Looks like they might pull it off. The Times reports that Smith's Democrats have failed to adjourn the session, and the majority leader recently "huddled in the hall just off the Senate chamber and consulted with his staff. When asked what was occurring, he responded, 'I'm trying to find out right now.'"

Update 2: Liz Benjamin says the senate chamber has been emptied of Democrats, and that on the scene are Tom Golisano -- the eccentric billionaire and would-be political power who last week said he was leaving New York because of taxes -- and Skelos, "sitting in Smith's chair with a BIG smile on his face and Smith... nowhere to be seen."

In an odd, banana-republic touch, the state senate video feed has been replaced by an endless loop of Smith's "Welcome to the new senate web site" video.

Update 3: PolitickerNY now reports the coup has succeeded, Espada is sworn in, and the Gang of Three plus One -- Espada, Ruben Diaz Sr., and Carl Kruger, plus original member Monserrate -- are hanging out with the Republicans, preparing to make deals.

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