At a Monday afternoon event where a group of Latina women announced their support for state Sen. Jeff Klein, sangria and piña coladas flowed. The senator, who is facing a Democratic primary challenge from former Councilman Oliver Koppell, has reason to celebrate, although he did not personally partake of the beverages.
Shortly before the event at a Cuban restaurant in Schuylerville in the east Bronx, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made his support for the senator official with an endorsement announcement.
The governor gushed: “Jeff Klein has fought for the people of Westchester and the Bronx for years. Jeff has been a relentless advocate for the people of New York, fighting for common sense gun control and universal statewide pre-kindergarten. He is committed to getting results that improve the lives of everyday New Yorkers and I’m confident he will continue to be a strong partner in Albany to help move our state forward.”
After receiving flowing praise from First Lady of the Bronx Hilda Diaz, Councilwoman Annabel Palma and others at the Monday event, Mr. Klein told a reporter the governor’s endorsement means Mr. Cuomo believes in the senator’s leadership.
“I don’t think anyone can say we haven’t accomplished an awful lot. We made government work, and I was an important part of that. The days of dysfunction ended when the IDC [the Independent Democratic Conference] was started,” Mr. Klein said, referring to the group of breakaway Democrats he led in a ruling coalition with senate Republicans. Mr. Klein recently announced he plans to form a majority between the IDC and mainstream Democrats next year.
Earlier this year, Mr. Klein played a crucial role in reaching a compromise over state funding for universal preschool in New York City. After Mr. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio publicly fought over the best way to pay for the initiative, Mr. Klein helped allocate $300 million in state funds to universal pre-K in the city, drawing the praise of both the governor and the mayor.
Asked how his sees his role in relation to Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio evolving, Mr. Klein said he will remain focused on results.