State Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) is now No. 2 in the upper chamber’s Democratic leadership, having led his party to what should have been a political victory in November.
“Should have been” because a group of rogue Democrats, including Sen. Malcolm Smith of Jamaica, formed their own caucus after the vote and aligned themselves with the Republicans, essentially keeping the GOP in power. Republican Leader Dean Skelos (R-LI) and Independent Democratic Caucus leader Jeff Klein (D-Brooklyn) say the two groups will share power, but the GOP vastly outnumbers the IDC and has held the Senate majority for decades, other than a one-term stint when the Democrats had it, in 2009-2010.
Gianaris chairs the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. As the DSCC chairman, he led the party to what looked like a 32-31 majority in the now-63 member body. Normally that would mean he’d be No. 2 in the entire Senate. But the GOP-IDC alignment is not normal, so he’s just No. 2 in the party.
The Democratic leader is Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers).
“Sen. Michael Gianaris is an incredible public servant, and I am pleased that he will serve as the deputy conference leader for the Senate Democrats,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement announcing his new position. “During the past election, Senator Gianaris led our conference to victories throughout New York State and helped ensure that Democratic senators were elected despite daunting odds. I look forward to having Sen. Gianaris as part of my leadership team.”
“I am honored to be chosen by Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to serve as her deputy,” Gianaris said. “There is much work to be done to advance the progressive goals the people of our state demand. I am excited to be a part of Sen. Stewart-Cousins’s team and look forward to working in partnership with Gov. Cuomo to achieve these goals.”
The two said that the Democratic Party will continue to “advance progressive issues,” such as enacting further gun restrictions and raising the minimum wage. Whether that advancement will mean actual legislation that gets signed into law is a big question with Skelos, the right-leaning, largely suburban GOP and the renegade Democrats deciding what will and will not come to the Senate floor.
The day after his leadership position was announced, Gianaris joined in a press conference with other electeds to call for limiting citizens to buying just one firearm per month and imposing a 10-day waiting period, among other measures.