Thursday, November 29, 2012

Will coalition rule the Senate?

After keeping a low profile for several weeks, Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein, the leader of a small Senate faction that's poised to tip the chamber's partisan balance, started speaking more openly about what he wants: a coalition-style government in which his Independent Democratic Conference will have an equal say.

Republicans and Democrats have been furiously scrambling since Election Day, when several Democratic victories made it seem like senators from that party could attain the 32 votes needed to control the Senate — deciding which bills are considered, and negotiating details of the state budget with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democrats who dominate the state Assembly.

But the Democratic resurgence was built on several assumptions, including the return of Klein, who broke with his Democratic colleagues to form the IDC at the beginning of 2011.

The two parties' principal battlefront has been the absentee ballot count in the 46th Senate District, where Assemblyman George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, faces Duanesburg Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk. Amedore holds a 111-vote lead after elections officials examined absentee ballots in the five-county district, which stretches from Amsterdam to Kingston through Albany, Schenectady and Greene counties.

A judicial review awaits 875 ballots set aside in the count, mostly due to objections by Republicans. Acting state Supreme Court Justice Guy Tomlinson in Montgomery County will hold a hearing Thursday on which objections are valid, and which ballots should be opened. Democrats say many of the objections were "frivolous."

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