Democrats in New York state are vowing to take control of the Senate from the coalition leading it now, made up of Republicans and five breakaway Democrats.
Oneida’s Sen. Dave Valesky, a founding member of the Independent Democratic Conference, says he’s staying committed to the power sharing structure, even as some Democrats are calling on him to leave it.
Many members in the more progressive wing of the Democratic party, like Blue Carreker, campaign manager of Citizen Action of New York, wants Valesky to caucus with fellow Democrats.
“We’re saying lets stop aligning ourselves with the Republicans and holding up important legislation," Carreker said. "Let’s come back with the Democrats and move forward.”
Valesky says he has consistently supported progressive Democratic ideals, like the Dream Act, the Women’s Equality Act and campaign finance reform, noting that the Democratic Party does not always vote as a bloc anyway.
“There are always at least one or two mainline Democrats voting against those bills," Valesky said. "So it’s a little hard for me to be critical of my Republican colleagues, for whom these issues are not part of their party platform, when all Democrats don’t even support issues that are important to the Democratic Party. So it’s a little difficult to find fault with my coalition governing partners.”
Valesky also says one thing his involvement in the IDC does is bring geographical balance to the Senate. When Democrats were in charge a few years ago, the power structure was decidedly in favor of downstate interests.
"We have the entire state represented from a political perspective now, as opposed to only one region of the state, which is what the case was in 2009 and 2010,” Valesky explained.
The pressure on the five breakaway Democrats is getting more politically intense, with a primary challenge to IDC leader Jeff Klein and talk of primaries against other members, including Valesky.
“I’m not concerned, I’m not surprised and I’ll certainly be prepared should there to be a primary later this summer to again, run on my record, which I’m very proud of," Valesky said. "And most significantly, I hear each and every day from my constituents that they appreciate my efforts in Albany.”
Valesky says he’s already gotten local support from the Democratic Party in Onondaga, Madison and Oneida counties.
“Have secured those endorsements quite a while ago and I have had very little, if any, concern from committee members. Those committee members who have questions, I’ve been there and I’ve been available and talked to them.”
Valesky says he reminds Democrats that he supports the progressive issues of the party, and points to on-time, and fiscally sound budgets as proof that the IDC has created a more functional government in Albany.