The balance of power in the NY State Senate apparently lies in the hands of a group of breakaway Democrats who have joined Republicans for a bipartisan coalition. Which makes many Democrats, especially minority ones, unhappy. State Senator Bill Perkins blasted the deal, saying at the Reverend Al Sharpton's Harlem headquarters yesterday, "Back-room deals are putting us in the back of the bus again... Ultimately, what’s at stake in New York is the very idea of democracy, representative government, our civil rights movement."
While the outcome of two races are still unknown, it's believed that the Democrats would gain the majority from Republicans. However, Democrat Jeff Klein (Bronx) and three others decided to start the Independent Democratic Caucus and align themselves with the remaining Republicans. The NY Times reports that the IDC "had been all-white until Tuesday, when it added a fifth member, Malcolm A. Smith, from Queens, who formerly led the Senate Democrats but now says he is considering running for mayor of New York City as a Republican. A sixth Democrat, Simcha Felder, from Brooklyn, has said he will join the Republican caucus, giving the new alliance between it and the Independent Democratic Conference at least 36 votes when the Legislature begins its next session, in January."
Sharpton had previously stated that Democrats should stick with their fellow Democrats, in order for Democrats to maintain a majority. Yesterday, he reiterated concerns that minorities' concerns would not be heard, "There is an attempt to disenfranchise voters, in my opinion, in the state of New York. There was an election. The election spoke to the will of the people. And there cannot be a back-room deal that undermines what people voted for," adding that the breakaway Democrats "need to know that the people that elected them elected Democrats, not Romney Republicans."
State Senate Democratic leader John Sampson, who is black, even said he'd step down if Democrats got the majority back, "This is bigger than me, this is bigger than my colleagues — because it is the people’s agenda... I will not be an impediment for us to get the majority. So I’m telling you I’m going to work hard from now until we go into session to get us back the majority, and when we get back the majority I will step down and not be a majority leader."
The event at Sharpton's National Action Network House of Justice attracted NYC Democrats, like Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson and City Comptroller John Liu. The IDC and GOP claim that they'll allow floor votes for things like "campaign finance reform, a minimum wage hike and decriminalization for possession of small amounts of marijuana."