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Break-away Democrats could boost north country GOP


CANTON - Reacting to media reports that the state Senate’s Independent Democratic Caucus may align itself with Republicans in the 2013 Senate session, north county lawmakers say the move could mean they retain control over various leadership positions.

The IDC is a collection of four breakaway Democratic senators who are on record saying they want a coalition government that would feature a power sharing agreement with Senate Republicans.

“Generally it’s the GOP conference that’s a better representative of upstate New York,” according to Senator Elizabeth O’C. Little, R-Queensbury, chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation.

Ms. Little said the Democratic conference is concentrated downstate, especially around New York City, and if the IDC caucuses with the Republicans and allows them to maintain nominal control over the Senate, north country Republicans could be set to remain in leadership positions.

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, said IDC member Senator David J. Valesky, D-Oneida, is an upstate Democrat who she sees as a partner in the region, so having him aligned with the chamber’s majority Republicans could benefit the north country.

“If Senator Valesky is part of a coalition government, that only adds another senator from the region who controls the chamber,” she said.

Senator Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, said he isn’t sure what a power sharing agreement between the Republicans and the IDC could mean.

“I don’t know how it will impact the leadership [of the Senate],” said Mr. Griffo, who chairs the Senate Banking Committee.

Mr. Griffo added that most members of the IDC have been granted leadership positions by Republicans, and he expects a similar deal to occur again.

Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, D-Morris Park, the unofficial head of the IDC, chairs the Senate Committee on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

Senator Diane J. Savino, D-Staten Island, chairs the Senate Committee on Children and Familes.

Mr. Valesky is chair of the Senate Committee on Aging.

“I’m not sure that a final arrangement has been made,” said Mrs. Russell, noting that “the makeup of the Senate hasn’t even been finalized.”

No winner has been declared in the race between Assemblyman George A. Amedore, R-Rotterdam, and Democratic candidate Cecilia Tkaczyk for the 46th Senate District. Whichever way the race goes will decide whether the Democrats or Republicans control the chamber.

“It’s a unique situation right now because you have some solid numbers on both sides,” Mr. Griffo said.

The race between Mr. Amedore and Ms. Tkaczyk is expected to be settled in court.

Mr. Griffo said if Mr. Amedore wins, it would give the Republicans the necessary 32-vote majority. If Ms. Tkaczyk wins, Democrats, including members of the IDC, would have a majority.

“In either scenario, I don’t think it will make a difference in the work I need to do for the north country,” Mrs. Russell said. “I will still be in the majority in the Assembly.”

Ms. Little said she believes the IDC’s “goal is to govern. In the past two years [since the Republicans won the Senate] the Senate has been run in a very constructive way.”

She said such a sense of bipartisanship has led to more effective government.

“The only way to govern is to work together. People in my district have liked the way the Legislature has worked together, with the governor, to get things done,” Ms. Little said.

“I’m encouraged,” Mr. Griffo said. “We recognize and appreciate that the place has got to run properly.”

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