Anti-IDC groups reject Dem coalition calling for primaries against breakaway group

Anti-IDC groups reject Dem coalition calling for primaries against breakaway group
By Mark Hallum

Political groups opposed to the Independent Democratic Committee are still beating the drums of war against the rogue group of state senators after a tentative peace was brokered with the mainline Democrats.

The IDC, which now includes Sens. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) was formed in 2011 in the hope of passing progressive legislation in the face of the conservative Republican majority in Albany.

Up to 37 political action groups statewide signed on to a press release from progressive group No IDC NY with statements accusing the IDC of caucusing with the GOP, blocking progressive legislation and only agreeing to a Democratic Party reunification deal last week to avoid primary challenges.

“We do not and will not ever support a ‘deal’ that allows Jeff Klein and the IDC to rejoin the mainline conference with impunity. Turncoats cannot be rewarded with long political careers and leadership benefits,” Susan Kang of No IDC NY. “The grassroots momentum will support only one solution in regards to creating an effective and functional Democratic Senate majority: beat IDC at the ballot box. Strong primary challengers are rising as we speak in all eight IDC districts, and we believe strongly that IDC members will lose their primaries next year. We encourage the mainline Democrats to follow our lead and support the anti-IDC challengers.”

A letter from the state Democratic Party called on IDC officials to form an alliance to take two available seats and rejoin the main party in order to establish a majority. If they declined, the letter said they would face stiff opposition in the next election cycle.

“TrueBlueNY is forging ahead to support real Democrats in primary challenges to the IDC, regardless of deals made by the state party. These eight people should not be in state government, no matter how they are aligned,” says Mia Pearlman.

The IDC leader, Sen. Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), responded to the Democratic Party letter welcoming the notion of reuniting as long as the Dems agreed to help the IDC achieve its goals.

“Since its very inception the IDC has worked to move the Senate out of dysfunction to advance progressive policies,” Klein said in a statement. “We are ready to move forward, provided any final agreement between Democrats is based on the legislative agenda that we put forth on May 22, which includes: the Reproductive Health Act, the Dream Act, Genda, protecting Title X funding, public campaign finance, single-payer health care and the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act. We are eager and ready to be part of a Democratic coalition that could proudly and publicly state what its legislative positions are going into the 2018 session.”

But Claire Ullman of Rise and Resist, a gender rights group, claimed the IDC has financial interests which prevent it from actually pursuing the goals it champions.

“This deal makes the Democratic Party hostage to the whims of the IDC, which can threaten to take its marbles and go home to Flanagan anytime it wants to throw its weight around. The IDC, in turn, is beholden to the real estate lobby that is the source of so much of its funding. It is hard to see how progressive legislation can come out of this distorted and corrupted alliance.”

Sen. John Flanagan (R-L.I.) is the Senate majority leader.

Rise and Resist and TrueBlueNY have made headlines in the past year for organizing loud opposition to Avella, Peralta and other IDC officials. Two rallies have

Avella said last week the IDC would remain in autonomous existence, but would operate in coalition with the Democratic Party. The members will continue to caucus among themselves, however, he said, making clear that despite rumors to the contrary the IDC does not caucus with Republicans.

“I’ve always indicated that the conference, myself especially, have always been willing to have this conversation and form a coalition with the Democratic Conference once we have a majority and I stand by that. I’m ready to do that any day, once we have a majority. That depends of course on Simcha Felder and we have two vacancies. Even if we were to all get together, we would not have enough votes for a majority,” Avella said, explaining that the purpose of the IDC to begin with was to make up for the fact Democrats lacked a strong enough vote on their own. “Once we form this Democratic coalition, there are things we believe as Democrats should be voted on.”

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.