New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote what The New York Times called a “strongly worded letter” to state Sen. Simcha Felder, urging the nominal Democrat to stop caucusing with the Republicans now that he stands as the sole vote preventing the Democratic Party from completely controlling the state’s executive and legislative offices.
“Let me say that the Democratic conference will not need you in November the way they need you now,” Cuomo wrote, according to the Times. “I believe there will be additional Democrats who win and are seated for the next Legislature. You have said that you act in the best interest of your constituents. For their benefit, now is the time that matters.”
The letter came after two Democrats won special elections on Tuesday, giving the Democratic Party a one-vote majority in the Senate — that is, if Felder chooses to vote with them. He had said before polls closed that he intended to remain with the Republican caucus. “I always try to do what is best for my constituents and New Yorkers,” Felder said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
Felder represents a large Orthodox community in Brooklyn, and has frequently used his political leverage to further his community’s goals. He held up the state budget process earlier this month over the issue of state oversight of yeshivas.
In his letter, Cuomo reportedly told Felder that his vote was “pivotal,” and urged him to avoid a “wasted opportunity to move the state forward.”
At a news conference on Wednesday, Cuomo said that Felder would take the blame if progressive legislation was not passed in the remaining few weeks of the legislative session.
If he doesn’t return to the Democratic caucus, Cuomo said, “nothing will happen, and these reforms won’t happen,” Mr. Cuomo said. “And that’s — it’s all on him.”
Cuomo Urges Democrat Simcha Felder To Rejoin Caucus