What is the IDC?
The Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) – led by Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein – is a group of NY State Senators who were elected to office as Democrats but aligned with Republicans. Rather than support the leader of the mainline Democratic conference, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, they’ve supported Republican Senator John Flanagan as Senate Majority Leader. This has given the Republicans in the Senate control over the budget, over committee appointments, and over what legislation comes to the floor of the Senate for a vote.
This is no new arrangement, nor does the IDC relent when Democrats have a stronger majority in the Senate: in 2012, Democrats won a majority of seats in the State Senate, but the IDC broke away from the main Democratic conference to give Republicans control. Democrats also held a majority of Senate seats after winning a Special Election in 2016, and once again after the 2016 election, but Republicans have remained in charge through their alliance with rogue Democrats.
Who is in the IDC?
The original cast:
- District 34 (Riverdale): Jeff Klein
- District 11 (Queens): Tony Avella
- District 38 (Rockland): David Carlucci
- District 23 (Staten Island and Brooklyn): Diane Savino
- District 53 (Syracuse): David Valesky
Joined in 2016-17:
- District 31 (Upper Manhattan): Marisol Alcantara
- District 20 (Central Brooklyn): Jesse Hamilton
- District 13 (Queens): Jose Peralta
And a special guest:
- District 17 (Brooklyn): Simcha Felder. He’s not in the IDC, but he was elected as a Democrat and also aligns with Republicans. Felder has signaled that he would rejoin the mainline conference if the IDC does.
What do the IDC members get out of this deal?
IDC members claim that their alliance is an effective way to gain leverage to advance progressive legislation, but year after year, this legislation dies in the Senate after passing the Assembly or (as in the case of the minimum wage law) passed only in heavily watered-down form. Read the long list of dead legislation.
What they actually get are “lulus” - committee positions awarded by the Republican leadership, which come with extra salary money, more prestige, and perks like better office space. These rewards are procured using questionable means, and both the state attorney general and U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn are currently investigating them.
In addition, big Republican donors contribute generously to IDC members and their conference. Fully one-third of the Real Estate Board of NY’s campaign spending in 2017 has gone to the IDC.
But my Senator is in the IDC, and his legislative record looks great!
The beauty of this deal is that IDC members can support, even co-sponsor, progressive legislation, to keep up appearances with their constituents. Since the Republicans control legislation, IDC members never have a chance to actually vote on the causes that they claim to support.
What is this deal I heard about?
In April 2018, after massive pressure from the grassroots Anti-IDC movement, as well pressure from strong primary challengers, Cuomo made the IDC rejoin the Democrats - even though he had been saying for 7 years he didn't have the power to make them rejoin. Jeff Klein (the head of the IDC) refused to give his war chest to the Democrats, and instead kept the IDC bank account inorder to fight IDC primary campaigns. The very next week after the deal was announced, the IDC threw themselves a fundraiser to honor themselves. As long as the IDC bank acocunt exists, the IDC exists. The bank account means they can re-establish the IDC at any moment.
In 2014, the IDC said they were rejoining the Democrats in order to get re-elected. Upon getting re-elected, they reneged on that deal, and did not rejoin the Democrats. New Yorkers will not fall for this trick again. The damage is done - for 7 years the IDC has given control of the Sentate to the GOP and blocked vital progressive legislation. The damage cannot be undone and will not be forgotten. Too little, too late.
This is a scandal, let's get rid of these craven opportunists already. What do I do next?
Donate to NoIDCNY. Tell your neighbors about the IDC. Get involved with one of the IDC challengers' campaigns. The only people who can turn NY truly blue is us. Let's get to work!
IDC Challengers Cheat Sheet
- District 11 (Whitestone, Bayside, College Point, Flushing)
Vote OUT IDC Tony Avella / Vote IN Real Democrat John Liu
- District 13 (Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, parts of Woodside and Astoria)
Vote OUT IDC Jose Peralta / Vote IN Real Democrat Jessica Ramos
- District 20 (Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, South Slope, Sunset Park)
Vote OUT IDC Jesse Hamilton / Vote IN Real Democrat Zellnor Myrie
- District 23 (North and East Shores of Staten Island, portions of Southern Brooklyn, including Bensonhurst, Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Dyker Heights, Gravesend, Sunset Park)
Vote OUT IDC Diane Savino / Vote IN Real Democrat Jasmine Robinson
- District 31 (Chelsea, Clinton, the Garment District, Hamilton Heights, Harlem, Inwood, Midtown Manhattan, Morningside Heights, the Upper West Side, Washington Heights)
Vote OUT IDC Marisol Alcantara / Vote IN Real Democrat Robert Jackson
- District 34 (Bronx, Pelham, and Mount Vernon)
Vote OUT IDC Jeff Klein / Vote IN Real Democrat Alessandra Biaggi
- District 38 (Rockland County and parts of Westchester County)
Vote OUT IDC David Carlucci / Vote IN Real Democrat Julie Goldberg
- District 53 (Madison County and parts of Oneida and Onondaga counties, including the majority of the City of Syracuse)
Vote OUT IDC David Valesky / / Vote IN Real Democrat Rachel May