Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tail Wagging the Dog?

According to Capitol Confidential, a coalition of advocates close to the Democratic Party are uniting in the effort to get the Gang of Three to support Malcolm Smith: "The groups that worked hard to help the Senate Dems win the majority in November are back at it again, this time to help Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm Smith secure the leadership vote in January. A coalition of the Working Families Party, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, Unite-HERE/ New York Hotel Trades Council, SEIU 32BJ, NARAL Pro-Choice, the Empire State Pride Agenda, the Communications Workers of America, and the Tenants PAC are banding together to organize came together on their own and are now organizing their constituents and partner community groups to rally behind Smith. They have or will be in contact with members of the so-called “Gang of Three” to push them to support Smith."

We're not sure how effective this will be-and whether all of the groups listed are actually engaged in the effort-but we do know that a coalition that includes NARAL and Empire State Pride, is unlikely to move Senator Diaz; although some of the other labor people could actually be effective. The question here is still; What kind of deal will it take to bring the outcasts in?

And isn't it interesting that the advocates aren't engaging Senator Kruger? As the 32BJ spokesman told CC: "“For our part, we are engaging our members with two State Senators from the Bronx that are key to bringing this all together – Espada and Diaz. We are mailing and calling our members in both districts where we have some 8k members all told. Calls hit Thursday, mail by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest,” wrote Nerzig in an email."

You still will need 32 votes, however, to make the new leader, and the pressure could also backfire if it's too heavy-handed. And the Democratic tail here can be seen as too powerful-particularly since many in the group are resistant to budget austerity: "This from Smith spokesman Austin Shafran: “This broad coalition of advocates shows the unified support for Malcolm Smith and a Democratic majority and a recognition of Sen. Smith an the democratic conference’s commitment to meeting the needs of working families.”

But what about the state's homeowners, small businesses and tax payers? The danger is in too close an identification of the party with interest groups that thrive from government largess. Still, it is good that all are engaged here to help resolve the leadership process; but we're still no closer to a resolution than we were when the Smith deal fell apart.