3:54 pm Nov. 8, 2012
Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, a Democrat, hopes nearby "Independent Democratic" state senator Jeff Klein cuts a deal with the other Senate Democrats to allow them to take over the majority in that chamber, after picking up seats on Election Day.
But Dinowitz doesn't think there's much that anyone will do about it if Klein sides instead with the Republicans.
"The truth is, if we really want to make change in New York, on campaign finance reform, if we want to pass laws to make the housing laws more even-handed so tenants don't get screwed left and right, pass pro-environmental legislation, we need to have the Democrats control the Senate," said Dinowitz, whose district overlaps with Klein's, which covers parts of Westchester and the Bronx.
"The Republicans are horrible on most of these issues that we care about," Dinowitz said. "If we really had a Democratic majority, we could do a lot of good things to affect public policy."
Klein's splinter coalition includes three other legislators. At the moment, it looks like there will be 28 regular Democrats in the now-63-seat Senate, plus Simcha Felder, a Democrats who has promised to caucus with whichever party is in the majority.
"I hope that those 32 Democrats vote to elect a Democratic majority leader," Dinowitz said, counting Klein's group but not Felder.
Asked whether he thought Klein would face a backlash in the mostly Democratic district if he cut a deal to keep Republicans in control, Dinowitz said no.
"Most people care about things in the community," he said. "When I pass good legislation, I think I've passed some good bills, I think it's great and it impacts people's lives, but the truth is most people really don't care. With rare exceptions, they really don't care. They care about seeing us in the community, standing up for the community, and so on. And I think that's one reason why Klein does well: I think people see him doing his job in the community."
I asked Dinowitz if he might challenge Klein if Klein helped Republicans keep the majority.
"That's quite hypothetical," he said. "We have a very good working relationship and I'd like to see it stay that way. And I wouldn't expect that he would do that."