Independent Democratic Conference (IDC)

BACKGROUND: WHAT IS THE IDC?

Watch a video about “How the IDC Turns NYS Red”

The Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) is a group of eight NY State Senators who were elected as Democrats but align themselves and caucus with Senate Republicans, thereby giving them majority rule. The IDC is led by Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein (SD -34, Bronx, Pelham), who instead of supporting Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the would be Senate Majority Leader, supports Republican Senator John Flanagan (Long Island). This gives the Republicans in the Senate control over the budget, over committee appointments which carry salary perks called ‘lulus’, and over the legislation that makes it to the Senate floor for a vote.

The New York Assembly has 105 Democrats, 42 Republicans and 3 other. Progressive legislation is routinely passed in the Assembly but stalls in the Senate (31 Republicans, 8 IDC, 23 Democrats, 1 other). IDC members claim that their alliance is an effective way to gain leverage to advance progressive legislation. However, legislation often never makes it to the floor for a vote so that Senators cannot be held accountable for their vote. This has real consequences for New Yorkers. Immigrant protections, single payer health care, campaign finance, housing policy, redistricting and voting reforms are all stymied as a result of the IDC’s power grab. Read the long list of dead legislation.

WHO IS IN THE IDC?

  • District 11 (Queens): Tony Avella
  • District 13 (Queens): Jose Peralta
  • District 20 (Central Brooklyn): Jesse Hamilton
  • District 23 (Staten Island and Brooklyn): Diane Savino
  • District 31 (Upper Manhattan): Marisol Alcantara
  • District 34 (Bronx, Westchester): Jeff Klein
  • District 38 (Rockland, Westchester): David Carlucci
  • District 53 (Syracuse): David Valesky

Plus:

Jeff Klein and David Carlucci are the only members with a portion of his district in Westchester.

WHAT DO THE IDC MEMBERS GET OUT OF THIS DEAL?

In short: money and status. Because they technically serve in the majority – they are entitled to “lulus” (in lieu of payment), salary perks that come along with committee positions awarded by the Republican leadership.

Sound fishy? It is!! Both the state attorney general and U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn are currently investigating the disbursement of these payments.

Big Republican donors (think Mercer) contribute generously to IDC members and their conference to keep the Senate Republicans in power. Fully one-third of the Real Estate Board of NY’s campaign spending in 2017 has gone to the IDC.

WHERE IS GOVERNOR CUOMO IN ALL THIS?

“At a time when New York should be leading the progressive charge against a Republican-controlled federal government, it is members of the Democratic Party who are holding the state back.”

‘How Andrew Cuomo Profits From a Republican Senate’, New Republic, May 2017

Governor Cuomo benefits from having a Republican controlled legislature keeping progressives in check so he doesn’t have to. What gets done in Albany is decided by Cuomo.  He is widely expected to run for president and he can point to a record that paints him as a moderate in a general election, while also courting progressives he needs to win in a primary election.

IW’S POSITION

We support dissolving the IDC and having senators conference with the party that elected them. We support progressive candidates who will not be co-opted into the IDC to fill recently vacated Senate seats. Furthermore, we support Andrea Stewart-Cousins as the rightful majority leader of the NY Senate Democrats.

FURTHER READING