Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wither Smith and the Democrats?

So now that the senate deal is moribund, what happens next? As Liz is reporting: "It appears Malcolm Smith is poised to go back to being Senate minority leader for the time being, as he's scheduled to hold a press conference right now in Albany at which he will discuss the apparently dead power-sharing deal with the Gang of Three. My DN colleague Glenn Blain who is baby-sitting the Smith event at the LOB, emailed this: Smith says they are suspending negotiations with the three, and said: "New York cannot afford the type of self-serving politics that is being proposed."

We're waiting with a great deal of anticipation for the next leadership deal that avoids the dreaded, "self-serving politics," that Smith feels so tainted the Three Amigo agreement. But Smith and the Dems need to proceed with caution-especially given the Hispanic empowerment issue that partially propelled the original deal. As Gerson Borrero reminded me, there is still a level of wariness between the two communities of color; something that could seriously harm the governor in 2010 if this isn't resolved in a way that calms the ethnic tensions bubbling below-and above-the surface of this battle.

So, if in fact Smith tried to pick off a few Republicans, he would only be able to do so at the expense of Latinos; particularly since he really didn't elevate any of his Hispanic colleagues when choosing committee chairs. Ousting Smith creates other kinds of problems as Liz points out: "There's always the possibility that the Gang of Three could be convinced to support a Democratic leader other than Smith...{but}...the other members of the Democratic conference would have to agree to oust Smith, which is a long shot, particularly since none of the other potential leader candidates (Sen. Jeff Klein, Sen Eric Schneiderman, mostly) are of color. Since Paterson became the first African American ever to hold the minority leader's post, the caucus has refused to entertain letting the post go."

So we sit back and wait to see the game of chicken resume; with many of the players waiting to see how David Paterson will respond-after all, he was in the room when the original deal was struck; and gave it his imprimatur. Your move, Governor.