DEM LEADER: DEAL WITH DISSIDENTS OFF
The Senate Democratic leader today announced he was suspending negotiations with three dissidents about what role they would play in a new Democratic-run Senate next year, throwing control of the chamber in 2009 into doubt. “We’re suspending negotiations immediately,’’ said the leader, Malcolm Smith, D-Queens. The announcement means that the Democrats, who captured 32 of the 62 Senate seats in November to capture the majority for the first time since 1965, are not assured control of the chamber when the new Legislature is seated on Jan. 7 because Smith has only 29 votes he needs to be elected leader – three short of the majority. Bronx Democrats Pedro Espada and Ruben Diaz and Brooklyn Democrat Carl Kruger had at first withheld their support after the election, but then swung behind Smith, apparently in exchange for promises of key leadership posts – as well as a pledge by Smith not to allow a bill legalizing same-sex marriage to come to the floor next year. Smith said he first thought that the “Gang of Three’’ were seeking reforms to make the chamber less partisan. But today he said the trio were after ‘self-serving deals. He also apparently rejected the same-sex-marriage deal. “We cannot limit the civil rights of New Yorkers,’’ he said. Republicans had been courting the three, hoping to win them over so that they could retain control in January. There was no immediate response from the three dissidents.