The co-leader of the state Senate says his breakaway caucus will challenge fellow Democrats in the 2014 election cycle, as the rift between warring political conferences continues to widen.
In a radio interview Monday, Senate Independent Democratic Leader Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, said his four-member conference will look to expand at the ballot box next year, when all 213 state legislative seats are up for grabs.
“The Democratic Conference has made it very clear that they want to primary me and other members of the (Independent Democratic Conference),” Klein said on WGDJ-AM in Albany. “Where we come from in the Bronx, it doesn’t suit you very well to be a punching bag. We’re going to respond in kind. We’re going to run now primaries against sitting Democratic incumbents, open seats.”
The IDC and the mainline Senate Democrats have been combatants since Klein’s caucus split in 2011. The IDC partnered with Senate Republicans to take control of the chamber this year despite a numerical majority of Democrats.
Meanwhile, the two Democratic caucuses have been locked in a verbal tussle filled with political gamesmanship over the past few weeks since news broke that New York City Councilman and former state Attorney General Oliver Koppell was eying a run against Klein.
Klein, whose district includes part of southern Westchester County, met last month with former longtime Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, D-Greenburgh. The two discussed the possibility of a primary challenge against Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, Gannett’s Albany Bureau reported.
Brodsky has since said he’s not running against Stewart-Cousins. Klein said he hopes Brodsky changes his mind.
“I’ve served with Richard for 10 years in the Assembly,” Klein said. “He’s smart, he’s hard working and not afraid to speak his mind, as you know. I think he’d be a great candidate for the state Senate and a great IDC member, and I hope that ultimately a year from now he decides to make the race.”
(AP file photo)