CIVIC CENTER — The five-member splinter Independent Democratic Conference has mended its rift with mainstream Democrats in the state senate — and plans to rejoin the fold, leaders in both conferences and Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.
Bronx Senator Jeff Klein, the leader of the IDC, which had been aligned with Republicans in the Senate to form a majority coalition over the past two years, said the past four years of the group’s existence had resulted in “a strong, stabilizing, sensible force for governing in New York State.”
“Yet as we reflect on these past achievements, it is also clear that core Democratic policy initiatives that the IDC championed remain unfinished,” Klein said.
Klein will maintain a co-leadership position alongside the leader of the Democratic conference, Westchester Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, his office said.
In a statement, Stewart-Cousins thanked both de Blasio and Cuomo, as well as outside labor and advocacy groups, for their work to bring the two groups back together.
“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.
The announcement comes after weeks of high-level political maneuvering in which Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to help push for a healing of the political rift as part of a deal to gain the union-backed Working Families Party support in his re-election bid this year.
Cuomo praised the rejoining of the Senate Democratic forces, saying in a statement that he had “no doubt there are progressive goals that we have yet to achieve and that we must accomplish next January.”
According to David Birdsell, Dean of the Baruch College School of Public Affairs, the Democratic coalition could result in the success a number of long-stalled mainstream Democratic priorities, such as the DREAM Act and expanded abortion protections, could quickly pass.
“This clearly begins to cue legislation that has heretofore not been given much chance of successful passage,” Birdsell said.