Koppell: ‘No reason’ to end Klein challenge

Oliver Koppell. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
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ALBANY—Oliver Koppell said he has no plans to abandon his primary challenge to State Sen. Jeff Klein, even after Klein announced his Independent Democratic Conference intends to re-align with mainline Democrats in the Senate.

"It doesn't mean I'll give up in my campaign because he's disgraced himself," Koppell told Capital.

Koppell, a former New York City councilman, said that as of Thursday morning no one had asked him to pull out of the race for the 34th State Senate district and his support has not wavered.

"I believe that if I had not put my name forward Jeff Klein wouldn't have divorced himself from Skelos," Koppell said.

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Koppell, who also served briefly as attorney general, said his presence in the race and his scrutiny of Klein's alliance with Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos and the Republican conference increased the pressure for Klein to rejoin the conference.

"I have been successful in getting Jeff Klein to, at least for this moment, divorce himself with the alliance he made to Dean Skelos and work with the Democrats to get the agenda passed that I've talked about," Koppell said.

Koppell had been pushing for a more progressive agenda including a higher minimum wage and public financing of campaigns, passage of the Dream Act, which would allow students in the country illegally access to state financial aid, along with all 10 points of the Women's Equality Agenda, which includes a contentious abortion plank.

The challenger said he's already gathered more than enough signatures to appear on the primary ballot and has raised more than $100,000 but still needs to raise more money to challenge the incumbent.

"There's no reason to take my name out of the race at this point," Koppell said.