Senate fights intensifies as Democrats refuse to concede
State Sen. Pedro Espada, (D-Bronx), and Sen. Dean Skelos, R-(Rockville Centre), at the Capitol in Albany on Tuesday. AP photo.
Democrats and Republicans in Albany Tuesday continued to fight over the keys to the Senate chamber literally.
The secretary of the senate, Angelo Aponte, who works for ousted Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans), was holding the keys to the locked chamber, prompting Republicans who won a slim majority after two Democrats defected Monday to vow to convene in a park across from the Capitol today if necessary.
We will have a session on Wednesday, said Scott Reif, a spokesman for newly-installed Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).A spokesman for Smith, Austin Shafran, remained defiant, saying in an e-mail message: No handing over of keys whatsoever.
As for Gov. David Paterson, he said he will not leave the state as long as there is uncertainty over who is senate president - the next in line to the governor.
Both sides huddled in meetings all day Tuesday planning their next moves, with Republicans seeking to peal off more Democrats by offering them committee chairs.
One possibility for the Democrats to regain control is for the members to form a majority under a different leader. There are 30 Republicans in the 62-member senate, with Democrats Pedro Espada, Jr. (D-Bronx), who was elected senate president, and Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D-Elmhurst) voting for the new leadership.
Some Democrats also have threatened legal action, though many doubt it would come to that.
A judge would be loathe to get involved, said Gene Russianoff, a lawyer with the New York Public Interest Research Group. Whats he going to do, enjoin Pedro Espada from voting with the Republicans?