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View Diary: Renegade Democrats keep NY state Senate in GOP hands, Cuomo complicit (338 comments)

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  •  The subtext here ... (0+ / 0-)

    It may have very little to do with any attempt to position himself for 2016.

    In fact,  he may be doing the Democratic Party a favor. I know, it doesn't feel like it. But just bear with me.

    The possible flip of the Senate has been a concern for the last three governors. Spitzer saw that it was coming, and began to work to make it happen. That made Shelly Silver,(the Assembly Speaker for years now, for non-New Yorkers), very nervous, because if the Senate had flipped under Spitzer, the governor would have had whoever wound up being majority leader in his back pocket, greatly reducing Silver's bargaining power as one of the "three men in a room" that politics in this state comes down to.

    Fortunately for Silver, the governor got caught with his pants down before this could happen. But the scandal couldn't stop the political changes that were already in motion, and Paterson got to be governor when the Senate did flip in 2008.

    You'd have thought Paterson would have welcomed this. Indeed he would have ... If he had still been Senate Democratic leader. He might have been a good one. But suddenly he was governor, and faced with having to deal with a Senate Democratic majority he knew all too well.

    As a result of those long years of Republican dominance, and the fact that either house of the New York legislature can be, and pretty much is, run by the majority party with almost no input from the minority, the Senate became the perfect place to put Democratic Assemblymembers, particularly from Brooklyn or Queens, who could still win elections but had already proven that they were out of their depth in Albany. Kick them upstairs, and they at least wouldn't do too much damage with their limited competence or corruption. The really effective Democratic legislators stay in the Assembly where they can have an impact.

    No one really expected the Senate to change hands and put some of these guys in charge. That's why Paterson didn't try too much at first to keep that Gang of Four from doing what they did in summer 2009. He didn't want Dean Skelos running the Senate any more than any other Democrat ... but he didn't like Malcolm Smith any more, either. He would have accepted any other Republican before Smith (I'm amused that Smith has now joined the IDC. If that takes him out of the running to be Senate Democratic leader, and Cuomo's intercession led to that, then he has saved us a lot of future potential headaches).

    So, while I'd be the first to admit Cuomo's isn't a progressive ideal, either, and this may hurt any presidential aspirations he has, there may be more to this than is apparent from out of state.

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