Power stakes in 31st district primary

By Tom Piccolo

A political coup that changed the power dynamic in Albany five years ago is still playing out in today’s primary race for legislative seats.

“The fate of the State Senate could be in the balance, depending on who wins,” says Ross Barkan, who has written about the race for The Village Voice.

In 2011, The Independent Democratic Conference, a group of five Democratic Senators led by State Senator Jeff Klein, defected from the traditional Democratic Conference to align with the Republicans. Their change in allegiance was a power play designed to give the IDC a seat at the table with the Senate Republicans who then held a slim majority.

After the 2012 election, the Democrats secured enough seats to win back the majority. However, in a surprising twist, the IDC chose to remain with the G.O.P., and maintain control of the Senate for Republicans.

Now, Marisol Alcantara, the Democratic nominee for Senate District 31 endorsed by former Senator Adriano Espaillat, has been connected to the rogue conference.

“Alcantara’s mentor is Espaillat,” says Barkan. “He was never in the IDC, but he’s always had a good working relationship with Klein.”

Barkan went on to point out that Alcantara has received money on the IDC’s behalf. Last month, Klein donated $7,000 to her campaign, the maximum amount a contributor is allowed to give.

Alcantara’s camp has been coy regarding which conference they plan to join if she should win, but that hasn’t stopped her political opponents from using it as ammunition against her. Whether those tactics help sway voters away from Alcantara will be revealed Tuesday night.

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