With the Thanksgiving holiday over, New York pols are talking turkey about how to solve the state Senate's leadership crisis.
After the city dailies got the story yesterday, the "Gang of Three" — Riverdale-Kingsbridge's incoming state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr., who will take office in January, and his colleagues Bronxite Ruben Diaz Sr. and Brooklyn legislator Carl Kruger — released a statement today trumpeting the results of months of negotiations for their allegiance in the battle to pick a party leader.
The agreement will separate the office of Senate majority leader, a party post, from president pro tempore, a constitutional one, The Times reports. Mr. Espada, according to the statement, will become majority leader. He will be the highest-ranking Hispanic official in the Legislature. The deal vaults Mr. Espada from a party outcast, against whom the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee campaigned heavily against, to one of the most powerful people in the Legislature.
Mr. Diaz is supposed to become Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz's opposite number in the Senate, chairing its committee on aging. Mr. Kruger is supposed to receive the Finance Committee chairmanship.
The Times also leaned on Mr. Diaz's past pledge not to support anyone who would bring gay marriage to the table, and presumably some reporting done with sources speaking on background, to verify that his allegiance comes at another cost: the state Senate won't consider the right for gays to marry in the state of New York this year, says that paper.
In conversations before the Thanksgiving holiday, Mr. Espada pooh-poohed the suggestion that he and his colleagues were holding out for committee chairmanships.
"What we’ve been talking about is can we achieve a consensus with either side so that the priorities that we think are important will receive the most support," he said in mid-November. His priorities included the state budget, redistricting and job creation, he said at the time.
He also wasn't shy about how he was leveraging his position as a swing vote to get his way.
"My community wants me to be smart and leverage the political capital that we have," he said at the time.
There has been a lot of tension in Albany over the possibility of these three relative outsiders brokering their way to prominence. The deal would require changing the rules of the Senate, which itself will be put to a vote in that house. So nothing is final yet, and likely won't be until the votes are cast for a leader in January.
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