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.