Monday, November 03, 2008

InKleined to Lead

The senate leadership showdown has gotten even more explicitly muddied with the revelation by the NY Post's Fred Dicker that Jeff Klein is actively looking to take out Malcolm Smith: "BRONX state Sen. Jeff Klein has launched a behind-the-scenes challenge to Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith of Queens, in hopes of becoming majority leader if Democrats win control of the Senate tomorrow, The Post has learned. During the past 10 days, Klein and a close ally, Sen. Diane Savino of Staten Island, have quietly contacted other Democratic senators - and even reached out to Gov. Paterson - to round up votes to make Klein majority leader when the newly elected Senate is seated in January, senior state Democrats said."

Fasten your seat belts everyone, this is going to get ugly-especially if the Dems come out of tomorrow's vote with a two seat majority: "Klein's efforts prompted the Queens-based Smith to call a rushed "conference" of Senate Democrats next Wednesday, where he hopes to force a vote to name him majority leader if the Democrats, who haven't had control of the Senate since 1965, are victorious. Paterson, who served as minority leader before Smith took over in 2007, was described by one insider as aware of Klein's ambitions, "ambivalent" about helping Smith and "open" to Klein taking over."

And just who is that insider Fred? Perhaps it was Roberto Ramirez, the former Bronx leader who has promoting the Klein bid. In any case, with Kruger and the three amigos out there in independent limbo, it's not an easy leadership ascension even if the votes are there.

And what of this "independent caucus? According to Dicker, Klein's actively wooing them: "Klein and Savino have also quietly lobbied the "Gang of Four" - maverick Democratic senators and senators-elect - who have formed an "independent caucus" with an eye toward brokering their votes in exchange for their playing a deciding role in picking a new majority leader, possibly even a Republican."

That's interesting, but from what we've heard, the independents are not moving in Klein's direction; at least not a this point. They may have stronger moves to make in this unpredictable battle ahead.