Republicans and a breakaway caucus of four Democrats are floating the idea of a “coalition government” in the state Senate as control of the chamber remains in flux and a key race heads to the courtroom.
In a radio interview Wednesday, Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, said a member of the four-member Independent Democratic Conference made a “powerful statement” when signaling he was open to partnering with the GOP to control the chamber in 2013.
“We might have a great coalition government moving forward when we come back in January,” Libous, who heads the Senate GOP’s campaign efforts, said on 1300-AM (WGDJ) in Albany.
Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, head of the IDC, told The New York Times on Tuesday that he would be open to forming a coalition with Republicans, with the two factions sharing control of which bills are put to a vote and which senators chair committees. “It could work, Democrats and Republicans working together to get things done,” he said.
Sen. David Valesky, D-Syracuse, in a statement today applauded Klein’s efforts and expressed support for a coalition government.
“As a legislator who has always placed a premium on bipartisan cooperation to produce results for the people of Central New York and the entire State, I believe the time is right for a true bipartisan coalition to govern the Senate,” he said in a statement. “It is imperative that we do all we can to avoid a return to the days of dysfunction and chaos for which the Senate became known.”
Republicans currently hold a 32-29 seat majority in the Senate, but suffered losses in several key races on Election Day. The Democratic candidates appear to have won at least 32 seats for 2013 — enough for a majority — but Sen.-elect Simcha Felder, D-Brooklyn, has already announced he will caucus with the GOP.
Sen. Michael Gianaris, a Queens Democrat who led the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, said there’s still plenty of time for things to change.
“The vote on leadership won’t occur for about a month and a half from now,” he said on WGDJ. “This is obviously a very fluid situation. We don’t even have everyone certified who is going to sit in the Senate, so there is room for things to develop and I expect they will.”
Counting of absentee ballots continues in the Hudson Valley, where Rhinebeck trustee Terry Gipson, a Democrat, holds a 1,700-vote lead over longtime incumbent Sen. Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie.
In the newly drawn 46th Senate District, a judge will host a meeting Thursday on several hundred contested ballots. Assemblyman George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, Schenectady County, currently holds a lead of about 110 votes over Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk, a Duanesburg school board member.