Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins fired back against Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein on Thursday, saying she was “sad and surprised” at the news that Klein has had conversations about finding a candidate to primary her in 2014.
Gannett’s Albany Bureau reported late last month that Klein, a Bronx Democrat who heads a breakaway caucus that shares control of the Senate with Republicans, had lunched with former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky in Stewart-Cousins’ hometown of Yonkers. The topic of a potential primary challenge against Stewart-Cousins was broached.
Brodsky has since said he has no plans to challenge Stewart-Cousins, though he initially didn’t rule anything out.
“I was kind of sad and surprised that Senator Klein would be spending his summer vacation trying to overthrow the Democratic leader,” Stewart-Cousins said Thursday on The Capitol Pressroom, a public-radio program. “Frankly, I’ve always tried to work with all of my partners in government, and I certainly hope that the Democrats at some point would be able to come together and be the Democratic majority and the leaders that the vast majority of New Yorkers had voted for.”
News of the Brodsky/Klein meeting came not long after Crain’s New York reported New York City Councilman and former state Attorney General Oliver Koppell was weighing a potential primary challenge against Klein and had discussed it with Sen. Michael Gianaris, the head of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee.
Gianaris is Stewart-Cousins’ deputy leader. Stewart-Cousins said she hasn’t been involved in the discussions over a challenge to Klein.
“I heard about it. I believe I read about it,” Stewart-Cousins said. “It’s not anything that I’m doing, unlike Senator Klein, (who has) apparently come to the district, inviting people and having spokespeople talk about their particular endeavors.”
There’s no love lost between Stewart-Cousins and the Klein-led, four-member Independent Democratic Conference, which paired up with Republicans to control the Senate despite 33 Democrats being elected in 2012—enough for a slim majority.
In a statement last week, IDC spokesman Eric Soufer said Brodsky’s “reputation is impeccable,” and said the conference expects to be “very active statewide next year” and has “the resources to do so.”
UPDATE: Soufer issued a new statement Thursday, saying Klein was “equally sad and surprised to learn of the attempts to recruit candidates against him and other IDC members.”
“It is refreshing to hear that Leader Stewart-Cousins has no plans to engage in primaries against the IDC, but her Deputy seems to have other plans,” Soufer said in the statement. “Unfortunately, Leader Cousins does not appear to call the shots within her own conference. With that being said, the IDC believes the best defense is a good offense and we are prepared to defend our seats.”
(AP file photo)