Sen. Simcha Felder may be on the political hot seat from now till November.
The Brooklyn senator says he will stick with New York Republicans, even as Democrats won special elections that make him the sole vote keeping all branches of state government from being controlled by Democrats.
“It’s my obligation to avoid a … political battle that will only hurt my constituents and New Yorkers,” Felder told the New York Times. “Political gamesmanship must not be allowed to … push this institution into turmoil.”
Democrat Shelley Mayer led by an insurmountable 58-to-42% margin with nearly all precincts reporting in a Westchester district while a Democratic candidate was sweeping to victory with over 90% of the vote in a Bronx seat.
Those results will leave the chamber split 31-31, with Felder holding the deciding vote.
Felder, who has won his district in the heart of Orthodox Brooklyn running on both the Republican and Democratic lines, has long caucused with Republicans.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is a Democrat and Democrats hold a comfortable majority in the assembly, meaning the Senate is the only body preventing Democrats from enacting a wish-list of legislative priorities.
Up until recently, a separate group of “independent” Democrats also sided with the GOP. But they buried the hatchet and rejoined the party leadership.
That leaves Felder as a reluctant kingmaker. His power — and the pitfalls that it entails — came into focus when he singlehandedly held up the state budget to extract concessions around the way the state regulates Orthodox yeshivas.
He did win more lenient treatment, but also drew unwelcome attention to the issue of substandard education in Jewish schools and criticism for his own role in pushing an unpopular special measure to benefit the ultra-Orthodox.