The four members of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference have become five.
Sen. Malcolm Smith, D-Queens, will join the caucus of renegade Democrats who have split from their party’s main Senate conference, according to Eric Soufer, a spokesman for the IDC.
Smith, who briefly held the post of Senate Majority Leader prior to an ill-fated 2009 coup attempt by Republicans, joins the caucus as it seeks to change the Senate rules to allow it to become a permanent third conference, allowing it to form a “coalition government”—potentially with Republicans—to run the chamber. The Queens Democrat has been courting GOP support in New York City for a potential 2013 mayoral run on the Republican line.
“Senator Smith is pleased to be part of this agreement,” Hank Sheinkopf, a political consultant serving as Smith’s spokesman told the New York Post, which reported the news first this morning. “Senator Smith supports the bipartisan coalition that will allow Albany to function and provide real results.”
A spokesman for Senate Democrats declined comment this morning.
Smith’s decision adds more intrigue to an already cloudy situation hovering over the state Senate for 2013. Neither Republicans nor Democrats won a clear majority on Election Day, and Sen. Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat who heads the breakaway caucus, has been in negotiations on a potential power-sharing agreement.
As it stands, Republicans appear to have won 30 seats in the 63-seat chamber, while Democrat Simcha Felder of Brooklyn has pledged to caucus with them. That gives them 31—one shy of a majority. (The battle for the 46th Senate district is still undecided.)
Along with Klein and Smith, the other members of the IDC are: Sens. David Carlucci of Clarkstown, Rockland County; Diane Savino of Staten Island and David Valesky of Oneida, Madison County.