Brooklyn Democratic State Senator-elect Simcha Felder has decided to caucus with the GOP, placing doubt over the Democrats’ ability to control the Senate, the NY Daily News reported.
Felder, who represent a new, mostly Orthodox Jewish district, announced the switch following a Tuesday meeting with Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos.
Felder said that by joining the Republicans, who are in the majority until the new Senate goes into session next year, he will be able “to serve the people who elected me, and advance a legislative agenda that best meets their needs.” These include economic development, jobs and tax relief.
His move leaves Senate Democrats with a 32-31 majority come January. Two races have not been decided yet, and the Democrats are leading in both.
If the Republicans take either of those seats, they will have the majority, thanks to Felder’s defection. And that would be without factoring in breakaway senate Democrats who formed their own conference and have worked closely with the Republican majority the last two years.
The Independent Democratic Caucus, comprised of four Senators who worked with the Republicans this session, are yet to announce whose wagon they’d be riding come January.
Senator Skelos was delighted to welcome Felder to his ranks. “Senator-elect Felder will be a valuable member of our conference as we work to address the concerns raised by his community and continue to move this state forward,” the Republican Boss from Nassau County said.
According to the Daily News, Senate Democrats still expect Felder to return to his roots once their party wins the two disputed seats.
“The voters sent a clear message on election night that they want the Senate led by a Democratic majority,” said Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy. “We are confident that when the Senate convenes in January, there will be a Democratic majority and we look forward to working with Gov. Cuomo to achieve the progressive agenda he has laid out.”
In that case, it could mark the final demise of the NY State GOP, with both houses and the governor’s office residing in Democratic hands, as well as both U.S. Senate seats and a majority of the House delegation.