After 43 years in power, the Republicans gave up the majority in the NY State Senate and Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) became the majority leader. Outgoing majority leader Dean Skelos (R-Long Island) said, "Let me be one of the first to congratulate you as a friend and a colleague, of being elected. This has been a year of incredible change, and whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, we should be proud that any racial barriers have come down in this country." Smith is the first black leader of either part of the Legislature.

But Skelos found it hard to not to joke at the Democrats' inner struggle over power: He added, "We could always move to re-consider the resolution -- Reverend Diaz?" referring to State Senator Ruben Diaz, who only agreed to support Smith after, Diaz said, his own son twisted his arm and slapped his face (figuratively, we think) to come around.

The NY Times reports that Smith said, with a sigh, "My goodness. A humble boy from Queens who used to ride a bicycle delivering groceries, and now I’m delivering on a $121 billion budget. This is a great state.” (Politicker NY says Smith also teared up.) And he is making sure to spread the wealth—Smith will be appointing upstate NY legislators to high positions in Senate leadership.