The new Albany legislative session opens this morning with yet another rebellion in the ranks. This one comes from a quartet of Democratic state senators who announced this morning, with plenty of tough words, that they’re moving away from their party’s minority to form an “independent caucus” that will go its own way in upcoming leadership votes.
The foursome are Jeff Klein of the Bronx, who broke with Democratic leader John Sampson a few days ago, resigning the number two post as deputy leader; Diane Savino (Staten Island); David Carlucci, freshman from Rockland County, and David Valesky (Syracuse-Rome).
Capitol Tonight‘s Liz Benjamin posts that Klein “went out of his way to reject any connections” between the new breakaway group and the 2009 coup staged by rogue Democrats Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserratte. This makes sense since both jokers wound up paying with their jobs for their escapade.
“This isn’t a power play,” Klein said. “This isn’t a replay of past events where individuals lost their way and held us hostage…This is not about the right price, this is about the right thing…I think the time has come to bring a functioning Legislature back.”
All four breakway senators are white, which is likely to raise temperatures in the minority Democratic caucus where blacks are in the current leadership.
Shortly before the 10 A.M. press conference, Savino, a pro-labor senator, had tough words for current Democratic senate leaders.
“I spent the better part of the past ten years trying to move the senate into the hands of the Democratic Party” she told the Voice. “We tried to put it in a place where working people, women, issues equality would move ahead. Over last two years, we’ve seen everything we worked for is marginalized. They have rewarded the worst actors. They’ve permanently damaged the Democratic brand. It’s like the Stockholm syndrome, they stand by and condone the worst actions.”
“There has to be an independent voice for Democrats who can be part of the conversation, as this state is being led by Andrew Cuomo, on so many issues we care about. We are prepared to stand together as a bloc to work with the Assembly, being a voice of Democratic principles that is not tainted by the antics of a few.”
Savino cited the huge $14 million debt rolled up by Sampson’s conference, and the perks awarded to Espada in the form of extra offices around the state in exchange for his returning to the democratic fold after the coup.
“It is a failure of leadership. It is a style that rewards the worst actors in our conference.”
“Everyone says Albany is broken. We are a national laughing stock. Albany is not going to be fixed by the people who broke it. We need to turn it upside down, we need a new paradigm.”