New York State's Senate Remains Comically Dysfunctional, By The Way


Spinning in his graveHa ha, guys, remember the summer of 2009, which was before the 2012 elections that made liberals so cocky and even before the 2010 elections that made conservatives so cocky? It was after the 2008 elections, which made liberals so cocky! Among other things that happened in '08, the New York State Senate, which had been controlled by the Republicans forever, finally flipped over to the Democrats -- for about five minutes, until Republicans wooed some Democrats over to their side and there was an embarrassing stretch when everything descended into madness and people were literally locked out of the Senate chambers, and Monica Seles's boyfriend was involved, somehow. Well, it's 2012, and liberals are cocky again and the New York State Senate will once again (maybe) (probably) have a narrow Democratic majority come January ... oh except wait, guess what's happening all over again, you'll never figure it out in a million years guess.

The best we can say for this latest round of insanity is that it's all being hashed out in various kinds of negotiations and grandstanding before the newly elected legislature even convenes. The story thus far goes something like this:

  • Democrats won at least 32 out of 63 seats up for election, which means that, even with one seat too close to call, they have the slimmest of majorities in the Senate.
  • But wait! Newly elected Democratic Brooklyn Senator Simcha Felder, literally days after defeating a Republican incumbent, announced that ha ha, never mind, he'd vote to keep the Republican Senate leadership in power.
  • Which means we'd better go back to that undecided district! Cecilia Tkaczyk is currently down by about 100 votes against her Republican opponent in the 46th district, but her lawyer sounds pretty confident that the remaining vote-counting will go her way, which would again put the Democrats up to 32.
  • Except never mind again, because Senator Jeffrey Klein and three other Senators have formed an "Independent Democratic Caucus" that plans to form a coalition government with the Republicans, just like they have over in Communist Europe.

Jeffrey Klein secured an earnest, sympathetic article from the New York Times, complete with a photo of him standing in front of posters of beloved New York Democrats FDR and RFK, in which he explained that he was trying to bring bipartisanship and an end to the sort of monolithic one-party rule that has dominated the houses of New York legislature since time began. The fact that Jeffrey Klein will end up in some ill-defined deputy leadership role in the new legislature is probably purely a coincidence a mere side effect in this new age of cross-party consensus.

As Wonkette immortal Alex Pareene points out, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo seems to care not at all whether his party actually controls the legislature or not, which is probably just his attempt to burnish his bipartisan credentials for a 2016 run and a close personal relationship with Speaker Eric Cantor. Remember when Mitt Romney talked over and over again about how well he worked with Massachusetts's Democratic legislature? That worked out great for him. [NYT]


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