Meet the most popular man in state politics: State Sen. Jeff Klein.
After cruising to another victory in District 34 — which after redistricting now includes all of Riverdale and Van Cortlandt Village, as well as about half of Kingsbridge — Mr. Klein is at the center of a power struggle that will decide which party will control the Senate in January.
And there’s a possibility that Mr. Klein will side with neither Democrats nor Republicans, transforming the Senate into a coalition government.
Though the final results will not be complete until all absentee ballots are counted, it looks as if Democrats won back three seats in the Senate on Election Day, a shocking underdog victory for the debt-ridden party. If the victories hold, Democrats could regain control of the Senate, but only if the four members of the Independent Democrat Conference, led by Mr. Klein, rejoin the conference. That would give them a 32-30 majority, but there’s also state Senator-elect Simcha Felder, who has said he will caucus with whatever party has the majority. Thirty-two seats are required for a majority in the 63-seat legislative body.
Mr. Klein and three Democrats formed the IDC in January 2011 as a reaction to the Democratic Conference’s two-year stint in the majority, a time that turned Albany into a noun synonymous with circus. Mr. Klein, who served as the deputy majority leader during that chaotic period, said the Democrats’ antics and dysfunction led to his decision to leave the conference.
So what will Mr. Klein do now?
He would not comment on what his intentions are and has not yet spoken publicly about it to anyone. The IDC released a benign statement on the Election Day results, which read, “In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, New York families and businesses need a strong, stable government now more than ever. We look forward to getting back to the people’s business right away.”
According to the New York Daily News, Mr. Klein met with Republican and current Majority Leader Dean Skelos last week. A spokesman for Mr. Klein would not confirm or deny if the meeting took place.