Friday, November 28, 2008

Malcolm's Up Short

As Juan Gonzales highlights this morning, the senate leadership fight has gotten even more intriguing-with current leader Dean Skelos dangling plums in front of the dissidents: "In an attempt to keep Republican control of the state Senate, Majority Leader Dean Skelos is wooing three rebel Democrats with a proposal to form a "coalition government." Skelos made the offer at a dinner meeting Tuesday night on City Island with the so-called "Gang of Three" - Carl Kruger of Brooklyn, and Pedro Espada and Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx, several sources familiar with the meeting said..."

So what's the supposed deal? Here it is: "Under the Skelos "coalition" proposal, the majority leader's post would be split in two - president pro-tem of the Senate and majority leader. In return for the Gang of Three backing Skelos for the first post, Republicans would help elect Espada majority leader. Kruger would then be named chair of the powerful Finance Committee and the top posts on other committees would be split between Democrats and Republicans.
Skelos has even offered nearly $6 million in extra funding for the Finance Committee and greater autonomy for all committees."

The waters are really being roiled now-and from what we've heard there's no consummation of any deal; and leaving Skelos in charge is not in the governor's interest: "The Skelos plan would still leave him and the Republicans in charge of the Senate - something Gov. Paterson and the other Democrats are expected to vigorously oppose. Even if the plan falls through, the rebels still hold the decisive votes for either side."

But with this much turmoil and uncertainty, Smith's status remains very shaky-and the NY Times profile this morning doesn't advance his interests in any real way. It is the decision of the dissidents that everyone awaits: "The governor has agreed to meet them because he is increasingly frustrated with Smith's inability to resolve the crisis, the Paterson camp says..."If this thing drags out much longer, you could see Democrats breaking away from Malcolm and looking for another Democratic candidate for majority leader," said one powerful lawmaker who has the governor's ear."