Sen. Valesky Sticking with Independent Democratic Conference Despite Pressure

Aug 15, 2017

Sen. Dave Valesky (D, IP), Oneida.
Credit facebook.com/senvalesky

It appears senator Dave Valesky will remain with the Independent Democratic Conference for the time being, despite continued pressure to reunite with democrats to form a majority.  But some feel the IDC has outlived its usefulness.

Valesky continues to defend his alignment with the conference, citing work with both parties on a host of successful issues from property tax relief and economic development to positive, on-time budgets. 

"People expect us to get things done, and that's really the bottom line.  You work with whomever is elected, whether they're a democrat, a republican, or an independent, and you move the state forward.  That's what the IDC has always really stood for.  It's about progress over partisan politics.  That's why we were founded in the first place."

That was back in 2011.   Rachel May is with the group True Blue NY-53, one of many formed in June to urge Valesky and other democrats to join the democratic caucus.  She says it’s hard to make the case for the impact of the IDC over the past two legislative sessions.

"Particularly in this last session, the results were really disappointing in terms of a lot of the things he had co-sponsored or said he was in favor of.  The IDC appeared to have no leverage."

Credit facebook.com/makenytrueblue

May says for example, voter reforms that repeatedly pass the assembly were once again allowed to die in committee in the senate.  She says state and local democratic committees are taking notice, and might be ready to exert some pressure of their own.

"It's not binding, but the threat is that the democratic party would not allow IDC members to run on the democratic line on the ballot, or to receive funding or assistance with petitions, etc. from the democratic party, which is a huge change from what has been true in the past."

There’s still more than a year until state lawmakers are up for re-election.   But May says special elections this fall could tip the balance of power in the senate even more to the democrats favor, making it harder for the IDC to stay relevant.  Senator Valesky insists the more voices, the better.

"People by and large appreciate independence when it is focused on doing what is in the best interest of constituents.  It really is about results.  I think people, for the most part, care less about the internal machinations of how Albany works.  They care about results, and what is getting done, and what is not getting done."