New York Republicans Turn Albany Upside Down

Two NY state Senate Democrats switch parties, returning majority status to the Republicans.

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By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

The political situation in Albany, NY has turned upside down thanks to the defection of two state Senate Democrats to the GOP caucus—returning to the Republicans the majority status they enjoyed for almost three decades.

The new bi-partisan leadership in New York's upper chamber is composed of Republican Dean Skelos, who will be the majority leaders and Democrat Pedro Espada, Jr., who is now the State Senate President Pro Temp. NY1 reported Monday that, once news of the defection broke and the GOP claimed they had retaken the majority that Democrats walked out of the chamber, cutting the power and the television feed in the process.

According to a statement from the Senate's GOP press office, "An historic change in leadership is taking place at this moment and a new bipartisan, coalition is being established that is bringing real reform to the Senate right now."

The change is the latest in a series of upheavals that began with departure of Gov. Elliott Spitzer, a Democrat who resigned from office after it was revealed he had cavorted with a prostitute in a Washington, D.C. hotel room.

In a released statement, Hiram Monserrate who joined the new bi-partisan coalition along with Espada, said, "I am a life-long Democrat and remain a loyal Democrat. After today's proceedings, I am proud to form a bi-partisan coalition that has elected the first Latino President pro Tem of the New York State Senate, my colleague, the Honorable Pedro Espada Jr. We look forward to conferencing with fellow Democrats to ensure that real reforms become a reality in the State of New York."

But the former majority leader is not going quietly—and is promising a fight.

In a statement, a spokesman for Senator Malcolm Smith said, "This was an illegal and unlawful attempt to gain control of the Senate and reverse the will of the people who voted for a Democratic Majority. Nothing has changed, Senator Malcolm A. Smith remains the duly elected Temporary President and Majority Leader. The real Senate Majority is anxious to get back to governing, and will take immediate steps to get us back to work."

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