Monday, December 01, 2008

Dickering For a New Leader

According to the Post's Fred Dicker, Carl Kruger, the leader of the rebel Dem senators, is refusing to back Dean Skelos for majority leader-despite whatever plums he may be dangling: "The leader of the renegade Democrats known as the "Gang of Three" has bluntly told Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos that he can't back him for re-election in January. Tough-talking Brooklyn Sen. Carl Kruger, in a private meeting with Skelos (R-Nassau), declared: "I'm not going to put my balls on the table to buy into a Republican coalition with you as the leader," a source close to Kruger told The Post."

In a remarkable behind the scenes admission, the governor's office apparently acknowledged as much: "The source said Kruger's salty declaration came after a private meeting with Gov. Paterson, who made it clear that he "hates Skelos and won't tolerate him as the new leader"...A source close to Paterson confirmed the governor's antipathy toward Skelos, and said it was rooted in his belief that the longtime Nassau GOP activist "is mean, can't be trusted and is not someone you can work with as a colleague."

All of which makes the leadership battle that much more problematic-since it now appears that both of the putative leaders lack sufficient support to be designated. The governor, however, seems ready to step in: "Top aides to Paterson have secretly contacted Steve Boggess, the top Senate Republican administrator, for help in finding a new majority leader. Paterson's aides contacted Boggess, the Senate's $196,000-a-year longtime secretary who is departing to become a lobbyist, seeking information on the "internal dynamics of the Gang of Three." "The contacts are a further indication that the governor is not unhappy with what the gang is up to. He's trying to see what role he can play best in the dynamic," said a source in the Senate."

As we have said before, this impasse makes it that much more likely that a dark horse leader will emerge. Who that could be at this point is any one's guess.