Like a move straight out of a playbook, the controversial Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) has officially made the decision to join with mainline Democrats yesterday going into election season.
The deal was officially struck at a meeting called by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, in which he invited labor leaders, IDC Chair Sen. Jeffrey D. Klein (D-Bronx), Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens), according to initial reports. The meeting lasted two hours and ended in a handshake between Stewart Cousins and Klein.
Under the pact, the mainstream Democrats and the IDC would work together to gain a Democratic majority in two upcoming special elections on April 24 and this year’s general Senate elections.
Stewart-Cousins will be sole leader of a reunited Democratic party and Klein will serve as a Deputy. Senator Michael Gianaris will remain in his leadership post.
State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Coney Island, Sunset Park, Staten Island) applauded the reunification and said she was looking forward to the newly formed party ttaking both seats in District 32 and 37 later this month.
“There was already a plan in place for the mainstream Dems and the IDC to come together. I think it’s pretty clear that it was in the best interest of everyone for us to unify as a party. It is increasingly evident to us that we needed a real Democratic majority in the Senate and that separate factions and agendas would only be distractions,” said Savino.
Savino then went on to outline the Democratic party’s newest agenda items including electing Democrats into Republican held seats and protecting New Yorkers from legislation out of Washington.
“The next step is putting all of our resources into electing Democrats in to Republican seats. Only twice since World War II have Dems held the majority, the GOP has always been in charge. Having a bare majority is a disaster and we need a stronger, larger majority and not to be fighting against each other,” added Savino.
A sentiment echoed by the Cuomo who applauded the IDC’s decision to join back with their colleagues and form a stronger progressive base in Albany.
“New York is under attack by an ultraconservative government in Washington that is threatening the progressive soul and economic base of our state. Everything we stand for, they are against. Today, we are uniting the Democratic Party to fight a common enemy for the greater good. But our work is not done. By joining together as Democrats, we will continue to fight to achieve the entirety of our bold agenda to make New York a fairer, safer, more equal state for all,” said the Governor.
However, the unification has some people doubting the legitimacy of the IDC’s members loyalty to the Democratic party, in particular the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID).
“Despite recent news that the IDC will rejoin the mainline Democratic conference, we will continue to support the candidates we have already endorsed. For far too long, the IDC has stalled the passage of important legislation in New York State and the senators responsible are still in office. These senators do not represent our democratic values, and are simply responding to true democratic challengers and increasing public awareness about their corrupt and deceptive practices over the last seven years,” read a statement from the CBID Executive Committee.
The Brooklyn political club has been a strong opponent of the IDC, alongside the Working Families Party (WFP), who most recently set an agenda to oust the incumbent IDC members this election season.
“Rejoining the Democrats now does not erase the harm that they have caused to millions of New Yorkers. We applaud Senator Stewart-Cousins for taking the leadership role she has rightfully deserved, but this is not a true victory until the issues that the IDC has held up for years in the legislature are resolved and candidates who truly represent their constituents are elected,” continued the statement.
This new unification deal does not include controversial maverick Senator Simcha Felder (D-Boro Park), who has a long history of caucusing with Senate Republicans. The new deal will give the Democrats a slim majority of 32-31 in the Chamber now.
“I’m only loyal to G-d, my wife, my constituents and New Yorkers. I don’t care about political parties and more and more New Yorkers feel the same way,” said Felder in a statement to Times Union.
The IDC was formed back in 2011 after Senator Jeff Klein’s resignation as the Democrats’ deputy leader. As of yesterday the group of eight breakaway Democrats included Brooklyn lawmakers Senators Jesse Hamilton (Central Brooklyn) and Diane Savino (Coney Island, Gravesend, Staten Island), Jeff Klein, Tony Avella, Marisol Alcantara, David Carlucci, David Valesky and Jose Peralta.