This article was submitted to the New NY 23rd by a concerned resident of Assemblyman Friend’s assembly district.
As history was made last week in the election of the first African American Speaker of the New York State Assembly Carl Heastie, and Sheldon Silver quickly retreated from the cameras. One by one challengers stepped down until the only viable candidate was Mr. Heastie himself.
Many pundits and strategists thought the race for the speakership was locked in between Democratic legislators from the five boroughs.
However while all that was going on Upstate and Southern Tier Republicans were plotting to get a piece of the corrupt pie that has become of the speakers race.
Assemblyman Steven Mclaughlin R-Rensselaer made a public proposition to line up the Republican conference in the State Assembly in favor of his preferred candidate Assemblyman Joe Morelle D-Rochester.
Stating to Politics on the Hudson that he could line up Republican votes behind Morelle, the assemblyman also made the argument that Morelle could “work in a bi-partisan way,”
In his interview the onetime Republican gubernatorial candidate said that he could work to line up Republican votes for Morelle.
“I would assume 44 of us could get behind Joe Morelle, for example, and then combine that up with 32 Democratic votes and that would work for me.” Mclaughlin stated while laughing.
Chris Friend represents Assembly District 124 encompassing the Town of Maine in Broome County; the City of Elmira; the towns of Ashland, Baldwin, Big Flats, Chemung, Elmira, Horseheads, Southport, and the villages of Elmira Heights, Horseheads, and Wellsburg in Chemung County; and all of Tioga County.
Curiously enough this same Assemblyman has not been challenged in a primary or general election since he entered the assembly in 2010.
Friend stated his support for the idea of cutting a deal with majority leader Morelle because he thought it would “unite the house.”
The same Chris Friend who spoke in support of cutting a deal to install a speaker of his choice and subvert the votes of the Democratic majority, blasted what he perceived as the same deal making that he stated he had seen in the Democratic majority caucus.
In a statement put out on January 22nd Friend stated “Speaker Sheldon Silver has used his position to benefit himself, his political allies, and chosen colleagues.”
Yet this same politician indicated support to an attempt to subvert the Assembly Democratic majority conference and fix the speakership position with a candidate of his choosing.
We all agree that Speaker Silver should step down. But no politician should be talking about morality and ethics, while they try to cut deals in the political backroom.
It’s a shame that the only way some in the Republican minority believe they can contribute is by subverting democracy.
Democratic leaders including majority leader Morelle were smarter and chose to let the Democratic process of electing the speaker take place.
The result was that the first African American speaker in the state’s history.
Even when these elected officials offer to sell their votes for an office that is among the most powerful in the state. Democrats shrug and say no.
The effectiveness of the Republican minority was shown in how they weren’t even considered real players in the speaker’s race. The lack of professionalism and political skills has effectively sidelined these politicians.
The fact that those who kept talking about reform attempted to overtake the democratic process shows that these same politicians who talk about reform practice doublespeak.
Then again being in the Republican minority in the New York State Assembly is like getting a participation medal in government which is ironically a very liberal thing.