ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo plans to turn up the heat on the last Democratic holdout aligned with the state Senate Republicans, sources say.
If the Democrats win a state Senate special election set for April 24, Cuomo plans to unveil an agenda the next day for the rest of the session that he hopes will pressure Sen. Simcha Felder of Brooklyn to return to the Democratic fold, a source familiar with the plan says.
Among the issues are voting and criminal justice reforms, closure of a loophole that allows corporations to give virtually unlimited amounts of campaign donations, a 10-day waiting period to purchase firearms and tougher rent regulations, including ending vacancy decontrol.
“With 32 elected Democrats it should be done before the end of the session,” the Cuomo source said. The legislative session ends in June. “This puts pressure on Simcha Felder to have to pick a side, or be the reason the agenda is not taken up.”
The source defined the issue as “a policy choice and not a political choice for Simcha: Are you pro-tenant or not? Pro-gun-safety or not? Pro—voting and -ethics reform, or not?”
If Felder returns to the Democrats, bills long blocked by the Republicans that he might personally oppose but would potentially have some GOP support might also have a chance of passing because the Democrats would control the agenda and could bring them to the floor for a vote, the source said.
Sen. Simcha Felder is a Democrat who’s sided with the state Senate GOP.
Such legislation includes a bill to make it easier for child sex abuse victims to seek justice as adults, creation of a state DREAM Act to provide state tuition assistance to the college kids of undocumented immigrants and measures to strengthen the state’s abortion laws, the Cuomo aide said.
Cuomo, who is facing a Democratic primary challenge from actress Cynthia Nixon, has taken heat from the hard left for not being progressive enough or doing enough to flip the Senate during his time in office. That criticism continued even after he recently brokered a deal to have a group of eight breakaway Democrats that have been aligned with the Republicans since 2011 return to the mainline Democrats this week, leaving Felder as the only holdout.
When asked about the governor’s plan, Felder said through a spokeswoman: “What else is new? I’ve been blamed for everything since I was born. Let’s see what happens on April 24.”
Felder two years ago ran unopposed on the Democratic, Republican and Conservative party lines.
A Democratic insider warned he could face a Democratic primary challenge if he does stays with the Republicans.