INDEPENDENT DEMOCRATIC CONFERENCE TRAITORS
Long ago I nicknamed the Independent Democratic Conference “The Traitors.” That’s because these people who ran as Democrats actually kept the Republicans who control the Senate in very Blue State New York in power. Many people, including Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, have called out Governor Andrew Cuomo for his seeming acceptance of that arrangement. The conventional wisdom is that both Andrew and his father Mario actually liked having the Republicans serve as the “brake” on the free spending Assembly Democrats. Put another way, if the Republicans didn’t control the Senate, the Cuomos would have had to have been the ones who said “no”.
Politics is politics and Prince Andrew knew from Day One that a third term reelection effort is always tough. So the man who started out as a sort of blue dog Democrat heeded Horace Greeley’s, “Go west, young man” advice and headed left, big time. Now in comes Cynthia Nixon and she is giving Cuomo holy hell, calling him out for everything including the fact that he was responsible for keeping the Senate Republicans in power. I have always contended that the moment Andrew wanted the so-called IDC back with the Democrats, they would kneel and say, “Yes, boss.” That is exactly what happened. Their leader, Jeff Klein of the Bronx, will be the number two in the Democratic conference, forcing the current number two, Mike Gianaris, to step back. I suspect that Gianaris will have a special place in the political heart of Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, who will be the first woman in that proverbial “three men in a room” who make the key decisions.
Credit has to be given to the Working Families Party because of their emerging support for those who were taking on the traitors in primary elections. Not only that, Cuomo didn’t want to face state and national Democrats who might want to know why he was keeping the Republicans in control of the New York State Senate. So Cuomo knew what he had to do (and what he always could have done) — he summoned his IDC subordinates to his chambers and told them the game was up. Not surprisingly, Andrew put his political electoral goals before his secondary need to keep the Senate Republican.
Of course this is all inside baseball. Most people have no idea about the Working Families Party but enough were getting wise to the perfidy of the runaway IDC Democrats and some were even ready to vote for their primary opponents. In the end, it was Andrew who in the most self-serving manner possible told them to get back where they belonged. Maybe, just maybe, if Cynthia Nixon were not in the race things might have stayed the same.
In the meantime, there is a question as to whether Nixon can win a place on the Working Families party as their gubernatorial candidate. The pro-Cuomo labor people in that party have the deep pockets that allow that group to stay alive even though all the pro-Nixon party members seem to have a vote and might override their labor masters. Last time out it was de Blasio who saved Cuomo for some inexplicable inside politics reason when Zephyr Teachout threatened to deprive him of the WFP line. That ain’t gonna’ happen this time. Some people believe that if Nixon gets the line, she might allow the Republicans to win the governorship a la Ralph Nader. I’d bet against that happening in this anti-Trump year.
So Cynthia Nixon is getting it done. She’s really shaking things up. The traitor Democrats are back where they belong. It looks like she’ll get the Working Families gubernatorial line and the Working Families group is now very powerful. What’s more, it looks like the Republicans in the Senate, even with the power of the gerrymander, could be out of there.
Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected].