Report: Dissident Returns to NY Senate Democrats


queens-senateA dissident Democrat who helped Republicans apparently seize control of the New York Senate is returning to his caucus, a move that would throw the chaotic chamber into a 31-31 tie between Democrats and the coalition that overthrew them last week, the the New York Daily News reports . Queens Democratic Sen. Hiram Monserrate divulged the flip-flop to a columnist for the News. He said he was returning to his caucus because Sen. Malcolm Smith of Queens, elected majority leader in January, had been replaced.

A spokesman for the Senate caucus, Austin Shafran, couldn’t immediately confirm the move.

Last week, Monserrate and Democratic Sen. Pedro Espada of the Bronx joined 30 Republicans in a bid to replace the Democratic leadership they said was ineffective.The leadership takeover froze the Senate as the Democratic caucus tried to block Republicans from meeting and went to court to have Democrats restored to leadership positions.

“I’m coming home,” Monserrate told the Daily News. “I said I wouldn’t return to the caucus without a leadership change among the Democrats, and that has happened.”

Monserrate referred to a closed-door meeting Friday among Democrats in which he said Smith was replaced. Senators leaving that meeting refused to say if there had been a change in leadership.

Democrats and Republicans said through the weekend that the coalition appeared to be secure. There was no immediate comment Monday from the Republican conference.

Monserrate’s future in the chamber remains uncertain. He still faces a charge of assaulting his girlfriend in a slashing incident. If found guilty, he could lose his seat.

The 31-31 tie is possible in the 62-seat Senate because there is no lieutenant governor to break deadlocks. The lieutenant governor elected in 2006, Democrat David Paterson, succeeded Gov. Eliot Spitzer last year when Spitzer resigned in disgrace amid a prostitution investigation.

The Senate’s leadership could be decided Monday in court. A state Supreme Court justice said Friday that if the politicians can’t figure out who is the chamber’s legal and rightful leader, then he would decide by 3 p.m.

Democrats claim the coalition’s fast parliamentary revolt was done after shocked Democrats hastily adjourned the session, making it invalid.

On Thursday, the 32-member coalition opened its first session since the June 8 revolt. Monserrate attended, but then said he wouldn’t vote on any bill until he tried to draw more Democrats to the coalition.

Monserrate has insisted that he would remain in the coalition to achieve reforms in Albany. He was heavily courted by Democratic leaders including the Rev. Al Sharpton and was seen as a weaker link than Espada, who secured the title of president of the Senate in the revolt.

{CBS Radio/ Newscenter}


  1. No one in the State Senate should get paid from last week – going foward, untill they get back to work – fully! Why should we the taxpayer, pay their salary’s when they are playing around enjoying extra vacation? Do you know how much the State will save?


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