After Democrats fail to take State Senate, IDC and its members are back in play, again


Since Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) were unable to elect enough Democrats to form a majority in the State Senate in addition to having the help of the Independent Democratic Conference, or the IDC, a deal calling for the IDC to rejoin the Democratic Party's conference seems to have been rendered moot. 

Before the Working Families Party endorsed Gov. Cuomo's reëlection campaign last spring, party leaders extracted a promise that Gov. Cuomo would help elect enough Democrats to the State Senate to form a new majority.  That deal counted on the IDC to rejoin with Democrats.  However, Gov. Cuomo never fulfilled on that promise, and compensatory efforts by Mayor de Blasio fell short of electing a Democratic majority to the State Senate, leaving the IDC with a choice to either rejoin the Democrats in the minority or remain with the Republicans in the majority.

State Senator Tony Avella (D-Queens) will continue to caucus with the Independent Democratic Conference.  Source :  New York State Senate/Official Photograph

State Senator Tony Avella (D-Queens) will continue to caucus with the Independent Democratic Conference.  Source :  New York State Senate/Official Photograph

Government reform activists say that the current iteration of the IDC was formed to prevent the Democratic Party from taking control of both state legislative houses.  Gov. Cuomo, who is well-funded by big business groups, such as the Partnership for New York City and the Real Estate Board of New York, did not want to see state Democrats adopt a leftist agenda.  To induce Democrats to form the IDC, Republicans offered the breakaway group leadership posts and other perks.

In the aftermath of the Republican Party's strengthened majority in the State Senate, the IDC now has no motivation to give up their leadership posts and perks in order to rejoin with Democrats.

The IDC's leader, Sen. Jeffrey Klein (D-The Bronx), has expressed an interest in maintaining the IDC's relationship with Republicans.  Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens), a member of the IDC, has likewise recommitted to his intention to remain independent by caucusing with the IDC.  "Let there be no confusion : I stand with the IDC.  While I’m greatly disappointed with the overall results of the election, I look forward to continuing to work with my IDC colleagues in the upcoming session," Sen. Avella said, in part, in a statement.

Sen. Avella's position is an attempt to clarify what Sen. Avella's office believes to be a misquote by WNYC, in which Sen. Avella was recorded to have said, "The Independent Democratic Conference will merge with the Democratic Conference to form a Democratic majority with Democrats."  

Before the election, there was a scramble amongst Democrats to escalate pressure on members of the IDC to ensure the group caucused with Democrats to form a new majority of Democrats in the next legislative session.  To that end, last month, Sen. Avella's office issued the following statement to Progress Queens : "Senator Avella, along with the rest of the IDC, is fully committed to forming a Democratic majority coalition in November."

All the pre-election bargaining has been thrown out the window.

As Democrats have played the blame game to explain how Gov. Cuomo's and Mayor de Blasio lost the State Senate to Republicans in a state, where a super-majority of the voters are registered Democrats, the IDC get to walk away with comparatively clean hands, whilst Gov. Cuomo pretends his diminutive campaign gestures were sufficient and Mayor de Blasio makes people wait two more years, before Democrats have a hope of mounting a new effort to retake the State Senate.