Regardless of the outcome of a too-close-to-call race in the 46th Senate District, Sen. Thomas Libous said Republicans are still open to forming a “coalition government” with a breakaway caucus of Democrats.
Appearing on WNBF-AM today in his hometown of Binghamton, Libous acknowledged that talks have continued with Sen. Jeff Klein — the lead negotiator for the Independent Democratic Conference — over a potential power-sharing agreement in the state Senate.
“It’s best not to negotiate in public on these things,” said Libous, who heads the Senate Republican Campaign Committee. “There’s no question that I have had a number of conversations with Jeff and I would love very much to see him be part of a coalition government with us.”
Klein has granted a series of media interviews in recent days, expressing his desire for a “coalition government” in which the IDC would have equal authority over the Senate.
Libous signaled that the GOP may be willing to partner with Klein and the IDC regardless of the outcome in the battle between Assemblyman George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, Schenectady County, and Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk of Duanesburg. If Amedore wins the race — he currently has a 110-vote lead with a key meeting with a judge looming today — Republicans will have secured 32 votes, enough for a majority without the IDC’s support.
“Even if we win the 32nd seat, I still think a coalition government is something that can be very positive, because you can get things move forward that are important to the people and the taxpayers of the state,” Libous said.
Control of the state Senate has remained up in the air since Election Day. Democratic candidates won as many as 33 seats, but Brooklyn Sen.-elect Simcha Felder has elected to sit with the GOP and the IDC situation remains unresolved.
Libous was interviewed for 25 minutes by host Bob Joseph, touching on everything from the state’s hydrofracking review to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Joseph grilled Libous on an ethics complaint filed earlier this year by Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan, a political foe of Libous’. Ryan, citing testimony in an unrelated Westchester County corruption trial, asked the state’s ethics commission in April to investigate whether Libous used his influence to get his son a job with an influential lobbyist.
But since then, little has become public regarding the complaint, and it’s unknown whether it’s still pending before the Joint Commission on Public Ethics or it has been dismissed.
Libous said he hasn’t been interviewed by JCOPE.
“I’m awaiting to be cooperative, but I have not heard of anything from that point in time (the April complaint) to this point in time,” Libous said.
Libous was asked if he wants to “hear from JCOPE” to put the whole issue to bed.
“There’s a process that has to take place,” he said in response. “I believe that JCOPE has received several hundred complaints on legislators this year, from what I’ve been told indirectly from counsel’s office.”