State Senator Jose Peralta, who represents parts of western Queens, is joining a group of “independent Democrats” that currently share power in the State Senate with Republicans.
While some in the district may see this move as merely inside politics in the state capitol, Peralta stressed that his membership with the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) will reap many benefits for local residents and the state as a whole.
Peralta is now the eighth member of the IDC, which was formed in 2010 and is led by Bronx State Senator Jeffrey Klein. The conference has formed a coalition, of sorts, with Senate Republicans, who control 31 of the 63 State Senate seats, to advance a moderate yet progressive agenda in Albany.
Politico first reported Peralta’s defection to the IDC on Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 25; in a mass email to constituents that day, Peralta explained that “the IDC has demonstrated its ability to deliver real results for constituents” including passing legislation to provide paid parental leave and a minimum wage increase.
The IDC has also brought an increased amount of financial assistance to community organizations in the districts of its members, and Peralta hopes that will translate into a boost for the 13th District he represents. The district covers much of Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Woodside.
“This has been a very difficult decision for me, and one that I have not taken lightly,” Peralta wrote. “In response to the current political climate and very real threats facing our community from Washington, I decided that now is not the time for inaction. Now more than ever, we must unite to ensure that the values we hold dear to our hearts are protected in Albany.”
Peralta is the second Queens state senator to become part of the group; Tony Avella of the 11th District based in northeast Queens joined the IDC in 2014.
The IDC continues to irk many rank-and-file Democrats who want control of the State Senate chamber to themselves; the Assembly and Governor’s mansion are already controlled by Democrats. Counting the IDC members and Brooklyn State Senator Simcha Felder, a Democrat who has been caucusing with Republicans since his election, there are a total of 32 Democrats in the State Senate, which would be enough for a majority if they all caucused together.