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Senate Minority Leader John Sampson sat down with NY1’s Inside City Hall yesterday, saying that New York voters issued a “mandate” on Election Day of a Democratic-held state Senate.
Sampson’s Democrats made major gains on Election Day, picking up as many as four seats in the chamber currently held by a slim Republican majority. But with Democrat Simca Felder announcing he will caucus with the GOP, recounts and absentee ballots still being counted and the four-member Independent Democratic Conference’s plans still up in the air, it’s still uncertain who will take the majority come January.
Sampson, a Brooklyn Democrat, said the voters spoke and they want Democrats.
“That is the mandate and the will of the people, and the Republicans don’t understand that,” Sampson said. “They won’t accept it. What they’re doing now, when everybody is talking about dysfunction and chaos and what’s going on — once again, they’re creating it.”
Sampson said he spoke to Felder and said he was disappointed with the Senator-elect’s decision. “But people can always change their minds,” Sampson said.
He also said that he will soon meet with Sen. Jeff Klein, the de facto head of the Independent Democratic Conference, to “clear the air” over some issues. (The relationship between the main Senate Democratic conference and the Independent Democrats was significantly frayed with Klein’s conference branched off in 2011.)
When asked whether he would step down as leader of the Senate Democrats if it meant the party gets to take the majority, here’s what Sampson had to say:
“I am the leader. One thing I have learned is I am not taking anyone’s vote for granted. I learned that just a couple of days ago with Senator Bill Perkins. I just learned that today with Senator Diaz. I will not take any one of our member’s votes for granted.”
Diaz yesterday released a statement warning that no one should count on his vote as a gimme. It wasn’t immediately clear what Sampson was referring to with Perkins, but a Senate Democratic spokesman said Sampson was simply making a point that “no one vote can be taken for granted.”
Calls to Perkins and his office were not immediately returned.