While the balance of the New York State senate remains unclear, as votes continue to be counted in a pair of close Senate races, activists are calling on a breakaway political coalition to stick with the Democrats. A coalition of union and community groups believe some important issues depend on it.
The message to Democrat state Senator Dave Valesky was clear from the almost 20 activists who rallied outside the State Office Building in Syracuse yesterday -- don't caucus with the GOP. Valesky is one of four members of the Independent Democratic Conference, which broke away from the Democratic party two years ago. One member of that group has suggested it will caucus with the Senate Republicans, who currently hold the majority. And that's got Mike Paterson of Citizen Action of New York upset.
"The notion that anyone in any community, who would run as a Democrat, would not caucus with that Democrat majority, would not work with the values and beliefs we hold dear, is quite frankly, unthinkable," said Paterson.
Rosemary Rivera of Citizen Action of New York agrees, saying a Democratic majority is what the voters want.
"The reality is that we all voted for a numerical majority on the Democratic side, which means it's the progressive agenda and Democratic issues that become extraordinarily important. That's what we voted for -- we need the representation for that. We don't want any legislators to forget that," said Rivera.
Activists say if the Independent Democrats support the Republican leadership, then progressive issues will continue to stall in Albany. The issues they are concerned with include raising the minimum wage, election reform and a moratorium on hydrofracking.
Valesky has been mum on the issue of the Senate's majority control since election day, except for statements that call for "a true bipartisan coalition to govern the state."