Monserrate back with Dems, NY Senate split

June 15, 2009 2:49:54 PM PDT
Dissident Democrat Hiram Monserrate is forcing a leadership change in the Democratic conference as a condition of his return to the fold from an opposition coalition he cemented last week. The Queens Democrat says he is back with the Democratic conference, seven days after he was part of a group of 30 Republicans and two Democrats who voted to replace the Democratic leadership.

The Senate Democrats agree to put Sen. John Sampson in a new position in which he will be in charge of daily operations of the chamber as well as be the face of the conference.

The Senate's still not in session with both parties, but Democrats claim there's a framework of a power-sharing agreement with Republicans.

Despite his change of heart, Sen. Monserrate sounded as defiant as ever on Monday.

"You know the voters of my district sent this ex-Marine, this ex-beat cop to come up here and shake things up, and I'm not walking away from that stance," Monserrate said.

With Monserrate back with Democrats, the Senate is now tied, 31-31.

There's no lieutenant governor to break a tie since Eliot Spitzer resigned, leaving everything up to Governor Paterson.

In the middle of this mess, Republicans offered an olive branch of sorts.

"I think we can share power. It would force us all to come to the table to find the issues where we agree and get it done," Sen. Andy Lanza of Staten Island said.

John Sampson is the new leader of the Democrats.

Malcolm Smith has a title only.

So the question remains, who's gonna run things?

Sen. Pedro Espada bused in supporters from the Bronx on Monday. He is sticking with republicans, and he claims last Monday's vote 32 to 30 stands. It was a vote making him president of the Senate.

"We can't undo what happened last Monday. If we start undoing it, we are playing with dangerous ground. We're playing against the constitution of this state," Espada said.


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