Friday, December 16, 2016

Gianaris: Senate Dems ‘Looking Beyond 32’

With John Brooks set to be certified today in the 8th Senate district, Democrats in the chamber’s mainline conference are now looking to add even more members “in the near future.” 
“This is the only Senate race or congressional race in which an incumbent was ousted in a very difficult year for Democrats,” said Queens Sen. Michael Gianaris. ” 
Brooks defeated Republican incumbent Michael Venditto in the Long Island Senate race and a judge has ordered the result be certified today. 
The victory means there are now 32 enrolled Democrats in the Senate — a numerical majority in the 63-member chamber. But the Senate is not so simple. 
Seven Democrats are the start of the new year will sit in the Independent Democratic Conference. Another, Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder, is aligned with the Republican conference. 
Gianaris, the leader of the mainline conference’s campaign arm, said there was still the hope Democrats could be united in the chamber. 
“We now have two senators on Long Island so we can officially declare the Long Island 9 a thing of the past,” he said. “We’re excited to have this race finally certified. We’re going to advocate as a conference for Democratic conference. The one thing is we think all Democrats should work togetehr to express a common interest and the will of the people on Election Day.”
Even so, Gianaris indicated he was taking a longer view of the Senate landscape, suggesting vacancies or competitive races could occur that would once again open up the chance of expanding the conference. 
“If that doesn’t come to pass, we think there will be more opportunities to increase that number beyond 32,” he said. 
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who during the campaign pushed for down-ballot candidates in Senate races and helped fundraise, has been pushed over the last several weeks by liberal groups and mainline conference leaders to get involved in the disputed leadership. He indicated last week he has no desire to do so. 
“They have tensions and personal animus and factions that pre-date my election that have nothing to do with me and they’re going to have to work that out themselves,” he said last week.
Felder has also shown no desire in changing his mind about where he’ll sit in the Senate. 
IDC Leader Jeff Klein, meanwhile, called the public effort to involve Cuomo a “circus.” 
“The math is clear. Democrats should be controlling the Senate,” Gianaris said. “We’re trying to make that happen as fast as we can. But the larger point is we’re advocating for that to happen before the leader vote in January. It’s either going to happen then or in the near future when there are more opportunities.” Post 

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