The Corner

Eye on the Empire State

When two Democratic turncoats handed control of the Senate to Republicans it represented an unprecedented moment in New York State legislative history. While there may be ideological components to this decision by Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate, my guess is they felt slighted by former majority leader Malcolm Smith whose leadership was questioned by these erstwhile adherents.

It would be a mistake, however, to assume this decision is an opportunity for genuine Republicans and Conservatives. In the more than four decades the Republicans controlled the Senate, they acted like Democrats. In fact, their concessions to the teachers’ union surpassed those of their Democratic counterparts. And it is noteworthy that Conservatives, who received patronage positions from these Republican senators, went along with this ruse without as much as a murmur of discontent.

This coup d’etat could bring to the fore the thoroughly dysfunctional nature of the state legislature. It might also promote a careful analysis of a state budget that is wildly out of control. Presumably a gubernatorial candidate could seize this moment to launch a bipartisan campaign suggesting that party loyalty is meaningless in the face of a budget exigency and political chaos. But my guess is equilibrium will be restored and a Republican majority in the Senate will look, act, and quack just like the Democrats.

– Herbert London is president of the Hudson Institute.


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