By Bill Parry
Pressure has been mounting on the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference in recent weeks to return to the mainline Democrats in the state Senate. Democrats would be in control of the Senate if not for the breakaway IDC sharing power with Republicans in a majority coalition which can block legislation it does not want passed.
Last month, the state’s 18 House Democrats, fired off a letter urging reconciliation. U.S. Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria), Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) all signed off.
“This reality is devastating, particularly for hardworking New Yorkers, because Republicans are intent on advancing President Donald Trump’s agenda,” they wrote. “The people across New York state have spoken and their wishes should be honored. Now is the time for all Democrats to return to the Democratic Conference to work collaboratively to benefit all New Yorkers, and fight unitedly against President Trump’s agenda.”
National Progressive figures are now lending their voices following the swearing-in of state Sen. Brian Benjamin (D-Harlem) last week, giving Senate Democrats a one-member majority if not for the breakaway IDC. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) urged the IDC to leave the coalition with Republicans in Albany.
“Given the high stakes, I join my New York Democratic congressional colleagues in urging all New York state Democrats to join the fight, and caucus and work together for New York’s working families,” Pelosi said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota), the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, urged reconciliation in the upper chamber so New York could become the seventh state nationwide with a unified Democratic-led government.
“I say come home. You’re welcome,” Ellison said. “But if you won’t come, you’re going to have to be primaried.”
The increased pressure from Progressive leaders was welcomed by Senate Democratic Communications Director Mike Murphy.
“In this dangerous age of Donald Trump, Democrats in Queens, across the state and even across the nation are calling for the rogue Democrats like Jose Peralta and Tony Avella to stop empowering Trump Republicans, who are operating in a false majority in the Senate,” he said. “No amount of perks or privilege is worth the damage the Senate Republicans are doing to New York City. These Trump allies are cutting funding to the MTA, to our schools and standing in the way of so many crucial protections for New York.”
Meanwhile, the IDC called for a Board of Elections review of a poll by the Working Families Party released this week that showed support for the IDC to return to the mainline Democrats. The WFP robocall results showed 61 percent of respondents in state Sen. Jose Peralta’s district wanted the IDC to reconcile while 59 percent in state Sen. Tony Avella’s district wanted the same.
The IDC alleges the WFP did not disclose who funded the survey and that the poll was not released in its entirety.
“The Working Families Party will lie, deceive and have no qualms about breaking the law,” IDC spokeswoman Candace Giove told the State of Politics website. “The Board of Elections must review these serious allegations.”
The New York Post reported Tuesday that the robocall used a swear word at the end of the automated, touch-dial response, according to a Peralta constituent. But State of Politics obtained the audio and reported the “voice is clearly saying, thank you.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr