Maverick Democrat Tony Avella has done it again. The Bayside state senator announced Wednesday he is joining the Independent Democratic Conference in Albany.
Never one to follow the party line, Avella’s move is seen as a plus for him. He is more likely now to be able to move his bills through the Senate.
The IDC, formed in 2011, is made up of five members now including Avella who run the Senate with the Republicans in an unlikely bipartisan marriage. It is headed by Sen. Jeff Klein of the Bronx and Avella credits him with developing “a clear, progressive agenda for New York’s working families.”
The 63-seat state Senate includes 32 Democrats. Two of them, Malcolm Smith from Hollis and John Sampson of Brooklyn, don’t sit with any caucus. They are both under criminal indictment.
“I am thrilled to be joining the Independent Democratic Conference,” Avella said. “They have shown an ability to get big things done, without the dysfunction of years past.”
He pointed to the IDC in passing new gun control laws and raising the minimum wage.
“Sen. Klein and the IDC have shown us that great things are possible when you focus on results instead of politics,” Avella added. “I look forward to being part of a team that has consistently delivered big results for New Yorkers.”
Klein responded that Avella’s “passion for public service” makes him a great fit for the conference. “He will be a major asset in our fight to make New York more affordable for working families,” Klein added. “The breadth of his experience, in both the City Council and the Senate, make him the type of seasoned legislator who knows how to get things done.”
Avella’s switch makes it more difficult for mainstream Democrats in trying to reclaim control of the Senate.
Reached by phone on Wednesday, he said the move should help him and his constituents: “I’ve always been a bipartisan person. And I want to get things done, not sit around twiddling my thumbs.”
The senator also believes he’ll have more influence on the upcoming budget negotiations in March.
Avella acknowledged that the move was not entirely unexpected and insisted “at the end of the day, it will be helpful to my district and the Borough of Queens.”