This was an insane year for both national and local politics. The president was re-elected easily after what seemed to be a much closer race; redistricting drastically changed the political terrain of the Bronx; another Bronx elected official was convicted of a felony; Riverdale’s state senator broke with the Democrats and forged a coalition with Republicans to jointly run the state Senate; new voting machines were tested in the first presidential election and the process for casting a ballot seemed more complicated and less reliable than usual; and the District 11 City Council race started to heat up. It will be hard to best that in 2013 — but here’s a preview of what to look for anyway.
IDC and the GOP
Heading into the new year, the Independent Democratic Conference is front and center in state politics. And because of redistricting, the man at the helm of the IDC, state Sen. Jeff Klein, is Riverdale’s sole representation in Albany’s upper house.
The five-member conference, founded by Mr. Klein in 2011, formed a coalition with Republicans in early December to jointly rule the Senate when session begins in January. Mr. Klein has taken a lot of heat for joining up with the GOP, but he says it’s the only way for the Senate to function.
There are a lot of questions about how the coalition will work.
State Sen. Dean Skelos and Mr. Klein will functionally be co-majority leaders. They will have joint and equal authority over which bills get voted on in the Senate and over the state budget, appointments to state and local boards and leadership and committee assignments for their respective conferences.
To get around a constitutional requirement for a temporary president of the Senate — a post usually filled by the majority leader — Mr. Klein and Mr. Skelos will alternately hold the title every two weeks.
Mr. Klein said he supports the Democrats on the major issues they want to see addressed this legislative session, including a possible minimum wage hike, reforming campaign finance, banning hydrofracking, introducing microstamping on bullets and reforming the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” policy.