Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Smith's Wedgie

As Liz has reported, it appears that the labor coalition targeting Diaz and Espada may be trying to isolate Carl Kruger from the amigos: "Officially speaking, the pro-Smith alliance, which helped the Democrats win 32 seats in November and now wants to be able to push through its policy agenda, is not targeting the Gang of Three ringleader, Sen. Carl Kruger, because his Brooklyn district has a lower concentration of Democrats than either Espada's or Diaz's...The real strategy here, as I understand it, is to try to isolate Kruger, who has a long history of associating with the Senate Republicans."

Perhaps so, but Espada in particular is no shrinking violet-and Diaz has shown that his ideological iconoclasm is no impediment to re-election in his Soundview district: "Diaz has always been a Conservative-leaning black sheep of the Democratic conference and has never had a problem getting re-elected in his district." Of course, if Hiram tubes, all of this strategy will be for naught anyway.

But Kruger tells us that his office is getting calls-from Manhattan tenants. Yikes! Kruger must be pulling up the drawbridge over at Mill Island, and hunkering down in fear in the basement. Nothing frightens the senator so much as tenants from outside of Brooklyn.

The safest path for Smith is to re-visit the original deal; a bit of tweaking is still possible, and a new deal could still be crafted. Bogarting the amigos could also backfire here. Liz, however, nails Kruger's persona in all of this, underscoring the risks in the wedge approach: "Of course, the problem with the wedge strategy is that Smith needs three votes (assuming the GOP isn't successful at blocking the seating of Senator-elect Hiram Monserrate) to reach 32 votes and become leader. If he gets Diaz and Espada, he's still going to need one more. Or maybe he thinks Kruger will crumble once he's all by himself? I'm not so sure about that. Kruger's pretty independent, and the fact that he's a man without a country has never seemed to bother him much."