New York’s state Senators today convened an emergency meeting to name GOP Sen. Dean Skelos (left) as the new majority leader as “Gang Of Four” members and Democratic Senators Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserratte have crossed party lines in a 32-30 vote to unseat Democratic Sen. Malcolm Smith. Elizabeth Benjamin at NY Daily News reports:
An observer in the Senate chamber tells me Skelos was sitting in Smith’s chair with a BIG smile on his face and Smith was nowhere to be seen. The chamber has now emptied out and Republicans are talking about electing themselves to committee chairmanships. I managed to get in touch with Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., who said the following: “That’s the rumor, but they haven’t spoken to be about it,” he said. “They’re still amigos.” Another rumor du jour is that Diaz, who is furious that the gay marriage bill he opposes appears to be gaining some traction in the Senate, would be angry enough with Smith if the measure comes up for a vote on the floor to join the Senate GOP. I asked Diaz about that, and he said: “Today? No. Tomorrow? Who knows? Tomorrow is another day. It’s always another day. You ask me do I plan to do that. I say, no. In the future, who knows what the future brings. The only thing I can tell you, and you can interpret this any which way you want: When I give my word, I keep my word. In order for me to break my word, you have to break yours first.” Here’s how I interpret that: It’s a (typically) cryptic way of Diaz Sr. confirming the worst fears of marriage advocates – that there was indeed a deal between himself and Smith that the gay marriage bill would not come to the floor in exchange for Diaz Sr.’s support of Smith for majority leader. And now, in Diaz Sr.’s mind, if Smith brings the bill to the floor, all bets are off.
Has our nemesis, the cartoonishly evil Sen. Ruben Diaz at last triumphed?
UPDATE: Whoa, this is messy. Sen. Malcolm Smith is now saying the the vote was “illegal” and that he is still the Senate Majority leader. From his spokesperson: “This was an illegal and unlawful attempt to gain control of the Senate and reverse the will of the people who voted for a Democratic majority. Nothing has changed…The real Senate majority is anxious to get back to governing, and will take immediate steps to get us back to work.” Elizabeth Benjamin at NY Daily News: “I smell a lawsuit.”
VIDEO: Espada and Skelos sworn in as new Senate leaders.