Monday, June 8, 2009

NYS Senate Falls Apart

In 2008, the NYS Senate had a Democratic Majority for the first time in 40 years.  I know this sounds surprising for such a blue state, but the districts are such that Democrats controlled the Assembly, and the GOP the Senate.

Today, in a very surprising and unprecedented move, two State Senators joined up with 30 GOP Senators to overthrow the previous Majority government and create a bipartisan coalition.  One of the Senators was made the new Temporary President of the Senate, the first Latino Temporary President in the state.  A bunch of Senate rules were changed,

This presents a huge setback for the State of New York and especially it's push to legalize gay marriage.  Redstate is spinning this into a rebuttal against gay marriage.  That may be partially true, a few Senate Dems were strongly opposed to gay marriage.  The sad thing is, there were many more reasons that the Democratically-Controlled Senate fell. 

1. They could not get the budget under control that is facing massive deficits due to lower tax receipts
2. (Former) Senate Majority Leader Smith's polarizing and secretive nature
3. Incumbent Democratic Governor Paterson's massive unpopularity
4. Huge problems with NYC (namely, the MTA and mayoral control)

I don't think that a lawsuit will do the Party or the State any good, but I don't know NYS Senate rules that well.  Hopefully the economy will start to turn around and the NYS Democratic Party can bounce back after this embarrassment.  

Some people may refer to "the amigos."  This is a group of 3 Latino Senators from Brooklyn and The Bronx (one defected, and another was the biggest Democratic opponent to gay marriage).  Latino Senators representing Latino districts tend to be more socially conservative because their districts are heavily Catholic.

People still don't really know what's going on.  I don't believe that the Senate is meeting today.  The DailyKos ran an interesting piece on all of this.

Rumor has it that Manhattan Senator Tom Duane may join the new bipartisan coalition on the condition that they bring the gay marriage bill to the floor.  Former Majority Leader Smith had said that he would not bring the bill to the floor without the assurance that it would pass.  If Duane can convince enough moderate Republicans to vote for the bill and have it pass, it would be a huge victory for the state and the country.
This could also have implications for the Republican Party as a whole.  If gay marriage becomes legal in NY under GOP leadership, that would send a powerful message to the traditionalist wing of the GOP.
In the end, it looks as thought the Democratic Majority was too fragile and the leader (Smith) was too weak for anything to get done.  If losing the Senate means making real progress for the LGBT community, it might not be so bad after all....


ShamRockNRoll said...

Nice post, Franco. Are you from NY?

What lawsuit are you referring to?

Franco said...

I am from NY

(Former) Senate Majority Leader Smith is going to go to court because he is claiming that this violated Senate Rules and Procedures.

In reality, I have no idea, I just don't know enough about those kinds of rules.

ShamRockNRoll said...

Hmm, interesting. Yeah, regardless I don't see how a lawsuit could help the situation. You either have the votes for a majority caucus, or you don't. It seems to me the dems should be looking for some pro-gay marriage Republicans who, if some concessions were made, would be willing to create another little coup.

ShamRockNRoll said...

Thanks for the continued updates!

It will be great if NY joins the gay marriage crowd. I wonder what the media will say about it if it happens under GOP leadership. Lord knows the majority of the GOP is heartily against advancing equal rights for the LGBT community... I wonder if they'll marginalize their moderate members, or welcome the change.