The NYS Senate has been under siege since 2011, by Senator Jeff Klein and a group of Senators calling themselves the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). Now totaling 8 members, all elected as Democrats, they have conspired to vote for a Republican Senate Leader, thereby handing power over to the Republicans in the Senate.
Under Republican Leadership, much progressive legislation that passes the NYS Assembly expires in the NYS Senate without ever being allowed out of committee for a vote. Or, alternatively, a watered-down version of a bill ultimately passes the NYS Senate, allowing IDC members to crow about their accomplishments while actually being complicit in the failure of good legislation.
Here is a list of progressive legislation that has passed the Assembly but did not pass the Senate.
NYPAN condemns this power grab on the part of the IDC, and our chapters have been active in supporting both a public outcry and a voter education campaign. We call for an end to the IDC and for a unification of the Democratic Senate behind a Democratic Senate Leader.
In Rockland County, NYPAN’s RocklandCAN chapter worked with Town and County Democratic Committees to issue public resolutions against any IDC member, including their own Distr. 38 Senator, David Carlucci. Similar pressure from the grassroots in other districts around the state resulted in the NYS Democratic Committee issuing a similar resolution condemning the IDC.
Unfortunately, the NYS Democratic Committee’s resolution did not pass until substantive language had been removed from it. NYPAN members on the state committee, Ben Yee, Jay Belanca, Kelleigh McKenzie and Mary Thorpe, all pushed for a resolution that would withdraw Democratic campaign funding from any Democrat who joined the IDC. That language was removed from the final resolution, apparently at the request of the Governor. NYPAN will work to get that language re-inserted at future state committee meetings.
Starting in November, 2017, NYPAN participated in an anti-IDC effort being coordinated by the Working Families Party. Volunteers from across the state (and the nation) called Democratic voters who had been identified as most likely to vote in the upcoming State Senate primaries (in September of 2018). Typically, these are Democrats who have voted in previous primaries. The volunteers asked these voters if they knew that their Democratic state senator had been voting with the Republicans. The volunteers explained the situation, if needed, and encouraged the voters to pledge NOT to vote for that senator if he or she again supports the Republican leader in 2018. The names and telephone numbers of all voters who agreed to this pledge, are being gathered in one place. If the IDC senator continues to support the Republican majority leader, the list will be given to every Democrat who announces that they intend to challenge that senator in the September primary.
Of course, the WFP has informed the IDC senators that this project was underway, so that they could think long and hard about the consequences of a pro-Republican vote. The response has included flyers and robocalls from the IDC senators to their constituents, in which they try to talk up their Democratic party values. It didn’t seem to help: our coalition already has over 1000 pledges in a number of districts, including those for Senator Klein, the leader of the IDC faction.
The Democratic State Senators who currently align with the Republicans include these 8 IDC members, and a 9th Democrat who votes with Republicans for his own reasons. Their names are:
- Marisol Alcantara, IDC Manhattan
- Tony Avella, IDC Queens
- David Carlucci, IDC Rockland/Westchester (Ossining)
- Jesse Hamilton, IDC Brooklyn
- Jeff Klein, IDC Bronx/Westchester (Pelham)
- Jose Peralta, IDC Queens
- Diane Savino, IDC Staten Island
- David Valesky, IDC Syracuse
- Simcha Felder, Brooklyn
If you would like to join NYPAN’s effort to stop the IDC, please send an email to Gina Ironside, our “No IDC” committee chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org.