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Breakaway Democrats Might Dissolve Coalition With NY Senate Republicans

New York state Senate chamber (File / Credit: Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

New York state Senate chamber (File / Credit: Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Control of the New York state Senate might soon switch hands.

Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) said Wednesday that his four-member Independent Democratic Conference will work to form a new coalition with traditional Democrats in the Senate after the fall elections.

Klein’s group broke away from mainline Democrats and two years ago joined Senate Republicans to take control of the Senate away from Democrats.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had pressured the breakaway Democrats to return.

“I applaud the IDC’s decision,” Cuomo said in a statement. “There is no doubt that we have accomplished much for the state over the past four years. We have transformed the state government from dysfunctional to highly functional, a deficit to a surplus, and losing jobs to gaining jobs. There is also no doubt there are progressive goals that we have yet to achieve and that we must accomplish next January.”

In a joint statement with Cuomo, Klein said the Independent Democratic Conference has “served as a strong, stabilizing, sensible force for governing in New York State for four years,” and credited the group with helping pass a number of measures including four on-time budgets, gun control laws, same-sex marriage, universal pre-kindergarten and most recently, medical marijuana.

But Klein said other business remains unfinished and requires the independent conference to rejoin with the rest of the Democrats.

“As Democrats, the IDC remains committed to the fight for an equal education for all New York students – which the Dream Act would provide, protecting a woman’s right to choose, increasing workers’ wages, and enacting meaningful campaign finance reform,” he wrote. “I agree with Governor Cuomo that these are progressive priorities we must pass.”

Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) also applauded the move.

“The Senate Democratic Conference has long advocated unity among all Democrats so we can better achieve the progressive agenda that New Yorkers demand and we look forward to working with any Senators that share those values,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.

But Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) dismissed Klein’s announcement as a political move forced on him by liberals who want to take over the Senate.

Democrats already control the state Assembly.

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