Senate Minority Leader John Sampson, a Brooklyn Democrat who has led his conference since 2009, said today he will step down from his leadership position if Senate Democrats are successful in wrestling back the majority.
Speaking at a rally held in New York City by Al Sharpton, Sampson said he won’t be an “impediment” to the Democrats regaining the majority. Sampson’s icy relationship with Sen. Jeff Klein and the other members of the Independent Democratic Conference has been well documented, and the five breakaway Democrats announced last week they would partner with Republicans to lead the Senate chamber.
Here’s what Sampson had to say shortly after taking the podium:
“This is bigger than me. This is bigger than my colleagues because it is the people’s agenda. And brothers and sisters, I understand that and I will not be an impediment for us to get the majority. So I’m telling you, I’m going to work hard now until the time we go back into session to get us back the majority and when we get back the majority, I will step down and not be the majority leader understanding this is bigger than me. It’s about the people of the state of New York.”
Democratic Senate candidate appear to have won as many as 33 seats during the 2012 election cycle, enough to claim a majority in the 63-seat chamber currently held by Republicans. But the five members of the IDC and Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder have said they won’t sit with the main Democratic conference.
Regardless of whether the Democrats are in the majority or minority, some have questioned whether Sampson would have enough support among his colleagues to remain leader.
Sampson was one of many big-name New York Democrats to speak at Sharpton’s rally, including New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Comptroller John Liu, Rep. Charles Rangel and Rep.-elect Hakeem Jeffries.
Sampson’s comments can be viewed below. They begin around the 39:30 mark.