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Friday, August 22, 2014

Klein’s IDC to rejoin mainstream Democrats

By Shant Shahrigian
Posted

State Sen. Co-Majority Leader Jeff Klein says his small but powerful group of breakaway Democrats will rejoin the mainstream Democratic Conference after the November ballot. Mr. Klein announced the move in a joint statement with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on June 25.

Mainstream Democrats in the senate and elsewhere have criticized Mr. Klein’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) since he formed it in December 2012 to co-rule the senate with Republicans.

Earlier this year, Riverdale’s former Councilman Oliver Koppell launched a campaign to unseat Mr. Klein on grounds the IDC was empowering Republicans and allegedly preventing progressive legislation from becoming law.

Following last week’s announcement, Mr. Koppell said he still plans to stay in the race, in which he is considered the underdog. But officials from Mr. Cuomo to Mayor Bill de Blasio — and even one of Mr. Klein’s most vocal critics to date, Bronx state Sen. Gustavo Rivera — applauded the move for the IDC’s five total members to form a new majority with the Democratic Conference.

“I’m just proud that what happened this week was validation that the Independent Democratic Conference will live on,” Mr. Klein said during a brief interview last week. “It will remain intact and remain a force, a stable governing force in the senate for many years to come.”

Mr. Klein did not discuss how the move will impact debate between him and Mr. Koppell.

But the IDC’s partnership with mainstream Democrats threatens to remove a key source of support Mr. Koppell had been counting on — endorsements from officials like Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. She is now poised to become co-majority leader with Mr. Klein after November.

“The Senate Democratic Conference has long advocated unity among all Democrats so we can better achieve the progressive agenda that New Yorkers demand and we look forward to working with any Senators that share those values,” Ms. Stewart-Cousins said in a statement following Mr. Klein’s announcement.

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