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Yesterday's New York Times had a front-page article (below the fold) which implied that race is the main factor behind the Republicans and a coalition of dissident Democrats cheating the Democrats out of their rightful majority in the state senate.  Well, with all due respect, I have to disagree.  This isn't about race.  This is about power--specifically, a Republican Party that is so drunk on power it is willing to do anything to hold onto it.  It is also about a Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, who is too gutless to recognize it.

The argument that race is at play in the recent power-sharing deal between the Republicans and the five-member Independent Democratic Caucus doesn't withstand serious analysis.   For one thing, the current situation dates back to 2009, when two Latino senators, Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada, joined the Republicans in voting the Democratic majority leader, Malcolm Smith, out of office and replacing him with Republican Dean Skelos.  

The Republicans were so desperate to regain the majority they had held for all but a few months from 1939 to 2009 that they went to bed with two of the biggest scoundrels ever to win elected office at any level.  Monserrate was facing felony and misdemeanor charges of assaulting his girlfriend and would have been automatically lost his seat if convicted on the felonies (he was ultimately convicted of misdemeanors).  Espada was under investigation for using his health care agency as his personal piggybank, and also faced charges that he lived in Westchester County rather than his north Bronx district.  Monserrate was ultimately expelled from the chamber in February 2010, while Espada lost a primary challenge.

After the Republicans regained control of the state senate in their own right in 2010, they drew a horribly gerrymandered map that seemingly guaranteed them a majority.  Cuomo could have vetoed it, but didn't.  Which means that had Cuomo put his foot down, a court would have likely drawn the map--and given that the current map grossly overrepresents the upstate, a court-drawn map would have almost certainly been much more favorable to Democrats.

Even with all of this, when it looked like the Republicans might still finagle control of the chamber after the 2012 elections, Cuomo could have collared every Democratic senator-elect and told them, "You were elected as Democrats and dammit, you will vote like Democrats."  But he didn't.

That's all it comes down to, folks.  It's not about race.  It's about a Republican Party living on borrowed time and a Democratic governor with bubble gum for a spine.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I've Read in Several Places (7+ / 0-)

    That the Senate GOP leadership ran the plan past Cuomo for his approval before they did it. Cuomo approved because -- bi-partisanship!

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 12:19:33 PM PST

  •  NOPE, everything is about race; FUCK off Cuomo (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    profewalt

    (R's) take those tired memes and shove 'em, Denise Velez Oliver, 11/7/2012.

    by a2nite on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 01:36:37 PM PST

  •  No, not really correct (8+ / 0-)

    there is no one single correct answer except that it is all about power. Power... and who holds it.

    And yes, part of that is indeed about race.

    And Cuomo is not gutless. Cuomo is getting what he wants... or a reasonable facsimilar thereof.

    I wrote up a quick synopsis comment in one of the previous diaries on this subject. I'll cut and paste it here. There is a bit more in the discussion under the original comment.

    Nobody gets into or out of Albany clean (11+ / 0-)

    Cuomo has very high favorables. Mainly because he can chew gum and walk at the same time and in recent history our governors have been able to do that. But Cuomo is all about himself and 2016. He is happy to have a Republican Senate because it means moderate legislation and not liberal stuff he'd have to defend nationally. He is no progressive and is running a Democrat  as Republican-lite playbook from the 90's.

    Spitzer's arrogance was causing him to screw up long before he got caught with his pants down. His "fucking steamroller" act was not particularly successful. He was a major disappointment as a result.

    Paterson is a very nice man but was not ready for the job. He fumbled a lot at the beginning and got a bad rep as a result. He actually did better than his reputation but it was too late.

    The Democratic Senate leadership was not particularly competent (Malcolm Smith) and had several corrupt and other wise legally challenged members (the 3 amigos of whom Kruger, Monserrate and Espada are gone). All this lead to the coup by the amigos that put Republicans back in power after we beat them the first time and then Democratic leadership... now John Sampson... welcomed the corrupt amigos back into the fold and gave them more power in order to get the majority back... which dirtied the hands of every Democratic State Senator.

    Republicans won the majority back and gerrymandered the hell out of New York in order to try and retain their majority. The fact is that New York is 2/3's Democratic and they weren't quite able to do it even drawing their own districts (with Cuomo's agreement despite heavy pressure for fair redistricting and pledges by Republicans to deliver and lines in the sand by Cuomo requiring it).

    The IDC then split way from the Senate Democrats when John Sampson retained the leadership and dumped Klein from the #2 spot.

    The IDC is partially about rejecting corruption and incompetence amongst the Senate Democratic caucus. Both of which are very real.

    The IDC is partially about racial politics. John Sampson is black. Malcolm Smith is black. David Patterson before Smith is black. The African-American caucus doesn't want to give up their piece of the power pie now that they have it.

    The IDC is mostly about Jeff Klein wanting to be one of the infamous "three men in a room" that runs Albany.

    The Senate Democratic caucus has some good people in it. It has some not so good people in it. It has some corrupt people in it. It has a lot of big egos without the ability to match in it. What it does not have is someone that is a clear cut strong leader that can unite the white, black, hispanic, jewish factions.

    The Senate Republicans meanwhile are not tea party types... though that sort of crazy is starting to creep into NY politics (Greg Ball)... but they are Republicans and they are a bunch of aging, partially fossilized (wholly in some cases) white men clinging to their last grasp on power. They won't have it for much longer as this arrangement is the best they can do right now.

    There is some truth to the idea that this arrangement might be the best to get stuff done. The Republicans will be willing to work with Cuomo in return for his supporting their thin grasp on power. They will agree to Klein's demands for policy in order to keep him in partnership. Klein, Savino, Carlucci, Valesky and Smith are all solid democrats in their policy positions... some Savino very progressive... some Valesky more conservative. But they won't get everything they want because the Republicans hold the most votes and Cuomo doesn't want to have to sign it.

    A Democratic majority would be more likely to pass more progressive legislation. But it might also spend more time passing out the patronage and sending money to their districts and buddies. Not to say that isn't exactly what the Republicans have been doing and now will continue to do with Klein and Cuomo's help.

    It's just the way it is in Albany.

    John Sampson came up through Clarence Norman's organization and was his lawyer as Norman ran his reelection campaign from his jail cell. Implications and rumors have been that Sampson is just as corrupt but I've never seen anything that remotely passes for evidence... just implication, innuendo and rumor.

    In Albany politics no one gets out unscathed.

    "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

    by Andrew C White on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 08:17:11 PM EST

    "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

    by Andrew C White on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 01:45:56 PM PST

    •  Good to get a New Yorker's perspective (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Andrew C White, wintergreen8694

      I think race is a small part, but not nearly as big as the NYT made it sound.  Like I said, if it was all about race, why did the Republicans approach a pair of Latinos for their 2009 coup?

      It's all about power.  The Republicans know damn well that once Long Island goes all the way blue, they will never win anything in New York again.

      Romney-Ryan: America's Rollback Team

      by Christian Dem in NC on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 04:27:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's always all about power :) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plantsmantx

        And it's not just Long Island. Upstate too. The fact is the Republicans have already lost power... even with the worlds most outrageous gerrymander of state senate districts. The best they can do for themselves is this power sharing arrangement and agreeing to a lot of progressive legislation. It's the only way they hold on to anything.

        But race does come into it as the African-American caucus in the Senate doesn't want to let go of the first hold on power they've ever had in the state... the Senate Democratic caucus leadership position. And the white folks (some of them - not all) in the caucus don't want any of the current African-American Senators to hold the position. And the way things work in most of the NYC boroughs is through machine politics and that is inherently corrupt so there are a lot of people whose hands are not clean. The race aspect of this is within the democratic caucus. The Republican concern is all about power. So is the Democratic concern... primarily... but it also has race and personal animosity interlaced.

        "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

        by Andrew C White on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 07:37:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Long Island is the key (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Andrew C White

          Nassau and Suffolk have 2.8 million people between them.  Combine that with NYC, the Capital District, Syracuse, Buffalo/Niagara Falls and Rochester, and the GOP could run the table in the rest of the state and still wouldn't have enough votes.  But you're right--the days of Repubs running it up enough in the Upstate to win are long over.

          North Carolina's the same way.  Romney may have won, but Obama swept all of the big counties.  2012 may very well be the last election where a Republican can run it up enough in the rural areas to win.

          Romney-Ryan: America's Rollback Team

          by Christian Dem in NC on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:42:59 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Cuomo wants to run for President. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      winkk, Andrew C White

      As ACW said he doesn't want to be tied to a liberal state legislature.  He doesn't want to touch the minimum wage or marijuana or a whole host of other  issues, but he's just dying to get fracking.  He absolutely wanted a Republican State Senate.  He is funded by big money interests who have not stopped producing adds proclaiming how wonderful he is.  He's already been caught up in a licensing for funding scandal w/at least one of his casino supporters. Cuomo is nothing like his father and is at best a blue dog and way too much like Rahm Emanuel, willing to make any deal to promote himself regardless of his constituents.

      •  That run may be over before it starts (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PHScott, Andrew C White

        Hard to believe Democratic activists will take kindly to someone who sat on his hands while the will of the voters was effectively circumvented.

        He'd be asking for it in the primary.  Especially if Martin O'Malley runs as well.

        Romney-Ryan: America's Rollback Team

        by Christian Dem in NC on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:37:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Cuomo will be the #3 candidate out of NY (0+ / 0-)

          let alone factoring in O'Malley or other candidates from other states.

          He'll have money backing him and a "name" and may well retain his high favorables through 2016 but I'm not particularly worried about him as a Presidential candidate. He's running a decade old playbook and he'll get beat within his own state let alone elsewhere.

          "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

          by Andrew C White on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 03:07:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Yep. Cuomo revealed himself to be (0+ / 0-)

        Republicon Lite before the votes were even counted.  Now we're not only stuck with a Teapublicon Governor, we're stuck - again - with a TeaPub Senate.  That $h!t ends in 2014.

  •  Cuomo just fumbled any chance for 2016 D-POTUS (7+ / 0-)

    ...nomination with this stunt.

  •  As punishment for writing this, you need to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Plantsmantx, Richard Lyon

    go read all the civil rights courts cases. You don't need Jim Crow laws to have discrimination and segregation. (The key phrase is "De Facto".) If, completely by accident, while aiming at other goals, a group of non blacks winds up keeping blacks segregated and discriminated against, keeps them from both public office and public facilities, then it IS about race - it is all about race. De facto discrimination is discrimination, end of story.

    Beyond that, and more importantly, the story doesn't really stand up. Statements like "I didn't have exclusion of blacks as a goal" are essentially nonsense because they are not verifiable, testable or falsifiable. One can claim any damn motive or goal one wants, but one must be judged by what one does, not by what one says. What did they do?This coalition is keeping blacks from obtaining power to which they should be entitled. That is all there is to it.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 03:52:13 PM PST

    •  Like I said, the angle of keeping minorities (0+ / 0-)

      on the margins is belied by the fact that the Republican coup of 2009 took place with the help of a pair of Latino Democrats.

      As I said before, this isn't about race--this is about a party that knows damn well that once Long Island goes all the way blue, no Republican will ever win New York again.

      Romney-Ryan: America's Rollback Team

      by Christian Dem in NC on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 04:09:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Irrelevant (3+ / 0-)
        Like I said, the angle of keeping minorities
        on the margins is belied by the fact that the Republican coup of 2009 took place with the help of a pair of Latino Democrats.
        If whites and hispanics team up against asians or blacks it isn't about race? That is simply nonsense.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 04:50:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  To clarify, it is well established in both (0+ / 0-)

        logic and law that what something is is determined by what effect it has.  I'll give you a first amendment example.

        You have Sunday laws prohibiting any activity, shopping, mowing the lawn, washing laundry or the car, etc.  Nobody cares becasue you're all christers.  A bunch of Jews move in. That law now must go, it works a great hardship upon and discriminates against the Jewish residents. It is discriminatory, no matter whether it was when it ws passed or not.

        An existing clique has the effect of  disempowering elected black officials as of a specific date. As of that date it is clearly racist, and those members who don't act to terminate it are legitimately acussed of racism, being in a racist organization and using their clique to further racist ends.  

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:38:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Let's be clear though (0+ / 0-)

          that the African-American caucus within the Democratic Senate caucus is not the majority caucus and really doesn't have any inherent right to the leadership position. They've held it for the last three leaders starting with David Paterson then Malcolm Smith and now John Sampson. Understandably they do not want to let it go but there really isn't any solid reason why the leadership position should stay within the African-American portion of the caucus. Whites outnumber then 2 to 1 and the Hispanic caucus is almost equal.

          Race is definitely involved but it is not the only issue. Please see my comment above for a more thorough breakdown of the entire situation.

          "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

          by Andrew C White on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 07:47:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  How much more evidence that the DEM Apparatus (0+ / 0-)

    is aiding and betting the GOP ??

    When do we stand up to these DINO's ??

    .
    .

    Operation Northwoods: The 9/11 You Never Knew

  •  Cuomo wants to show how (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Plantsmantx

    bipartisan he is. Fuck him. Machin doesn't actively try to get Republicans to control legislatures. Ben Nelson doesn't.  Cuomo is worse than both of those.

    "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." - George W Bush

    by jfern on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 10:48:15 PM PST

  •  This is a seriously flawed analysis. (0+ / 0-)

    From this perspective only people wearing sheets and burning crosses qualify as racists. The mere fact that the Republicans found a couple of willing token Latinos does not remove the blatantly racial impact of the arrangement.

  •  Could you provide (0+ / 0-)

    this gerrymandered map?

    "The government of the many, not the government of the money" - Nancy Pelosi

    by Americantrueandblue on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 03:19:54 PM PST

  •  Also, thinks like (0+ / 0-)

    this wouldn't happen if all such districts were drawn by non-partisan committees, I believe California and some other states do this, and all of them should. It would make it much easier for the people's will in ever state to be expressed.

    "The government of the many, not the government of the money" - Nancy Pelosi

    by Americantrueandblue on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 04:11:59 PM PST

  •  I think you are wrong on Cuomo (0+ / 0-)

    I don't think he is spineless, I think he actually WANTS the Republicans to be in power in the Senate. Nobody expected the Democrats to pick up enough seats to be the majority because Cuomo signed one of the most obnoxiously partisan gerrymanders in the entire US.

    And note this:

    http://capitaltonightny.ynn.com/...

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