New York State politics took an unexpected turn for the weird Monday, even by Albany standards.
Two State Senators, Hiram Monserrate from Queens and Pedro Espada, Jr. from the Bronx broke party ranks and decided to join their Republican colleagues in picking a leader for the State Senate, which in turn gives the Republicans a 32-30 edge over the Democrats. What this means is that Malcolm Smith is no longer the majority leader, and instead that job goes to Republican Dean Skelos, thereby ending the Democrats control of both the Assembly and the State Senate, as well as the governor’s office.
An odd aside to this whole mess is the position the New York State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC) was put in Monday. The same time that Monserrate was jumping party lines and voting with his new Republican BFFs, state senators Martin Golden and Frank Padavan were calling on Monserrate to step down, at least until his legal issues (you know, that whole messy domestic abuse case) are resolved.
Padavan and Golden argued that Monserrate would be too distracted from his legal dealings to focus on the important matters at hand in Albany. (Guess they were wrong – apparently Monserrate has plenty of time to focus on Albany!)
So, as Monserrate was shocking the Democratic Party and destroying their control in Albany – which they enjoyed for the first time since 1965 – the DSCC was forced to release a statement defending Monserrate’s decision not to step down from his post, citing the example of former Republican State Senator and Majority Leader Joe Bruno, who also was reluctant to give up his post after his was suspected of criminality, charges for which he was later indicted.
Maybe it would have been better for the Democrats if Monserrate had taken Golden and Padavan’s advice and just focused on his legal troubles back at home? Anyway, back to the coup.
We here at Pol Position love that this usurping of “power” has been labeled a “coup.” Such loaded terminology can only lead us to believe that trade embargoes, sanctions, and travel restrictions to Albany are sure to follow. A full-blown military state on the banks of the Hudson River is sure to follow.
One hilarious thing that has happened (if any of this really is funny, which we think it is) is that the Democrats have locked the doors and turned out the lights. No really, they have locked the gates that lead to the Senate chamber so nobody can go in. Come on, not one Republican has a set of keys? What if Malcolm Smith lost his only set, then how would the little business that gets conducted up in Albany move forward?
No, General Augusto Pinochet seizing power from President Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973 was a coup, this is just barely-grown men who are under some sort of assumption that the work they do is of the utmost importance to the people of New York State, when in reality the people of New York State view them as unruly children whose antics we put up with and then go about our lives anyway.
In other words, they’re our New York State elected officials, and all we can do is love and guide them and then send them off to Albany and hope they don’t steal, lie, cheat, and get involved in embarrassing legal entanglements. Oh well, they can’t all be winners.
Perhaps Councilman Eric Gioia had the most concise and astute observation of the whole mess, which me managed to sum up in 140 characters or less in a post to his Twitter account Tuesday morning:
“What is so sad about the Albany coup is that it hinged on two guys who could end up in jail soon.”