It looks like Republican have taken back control of the state Senate by getting two Democrats to caucus with them. Dean Skelos was voted majority leader (again) and Bronx Democrat Pedro Espada -- one of the two switchers -- becomes Senate president pro tem (he's also now the person who becomes governor if something happens to David Paterson). [TU] [NYDN] [AOA]
Here's a quick read of the coverage of yesterday's big switch...
The move caught the ruling Democrats by surprise -- and at one point they tried to stop the proceedings by turning off the lights in the Senate chamber. The chamber has now been locked by the Senate Sargent-at-Arms. [NYP] [YouTube] [TU]
Democrats are saying the flip was "an illegal and unlawful attempt" and are vowing to challenge it in court -- and they also contend that Malcolm Smith is still majority leader. David Paterson called it "an outrage" -- though there's very little he can do about it. Espada -- who says he and fellow switcher Hiram Monserrate are not changing parties -- framed the takeover as a move to "coaltion government."
Skelos framed the switch as a bid for reform. Shortly after taking over, the now Skelos-lead body passed a bunch of new rules for itself -- including term limits for majority leader and committee chairs. [CapNews9] [Daily Politics]
The two Democrats who made yesterday's switch happen aren't exactly beacons of the Senate -- Espada's been under investigation for fraud and Monserrate's under indictment for allegedly slashing his ladyfriend. Ans -- cue the irony -- Republicans called for Monserrate to resign earlier this year. Of Monserrate, Skelos said yesterday: "He's an elected member, and the reforms are more important." Not all Republicans seemed so ready to forgive and forget, though. [NYP] [NYT] [Daily Politics]
Apparently instrumental to yesterday's switch: billionaire Tom Golisano, who called it "a great day for the state of New York" and said "real progress was made today." Golisano recently said he was changing his residency to Florida. [AP/Troy Record] [Capitol Tonight] [Rochester Democrat and Chronicle]
If you want to read just one story about all this, this New York Times piece is the best take we read this morning.
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