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Valesky not yet ready to merge with mainstream state Senate Democrats

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News file photo

Two rival factions of the Democratic Party in the New York state Senate are making moves toward unification. 

The state Democratic Party this week offered the mainstream Democrats and the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), an eight-member breakaway group, an opportunity to bring the party together in a leadership role in the state Senate. Up to now, the IDC has been sharing that leadership role with the Republican caucus. Sen. Dave Valesky (D-Oneida) says the group, which split off from Democrats six years ago, has brought balance and stability to the senate after years of chaos.

"I have always maintained that the independence that comes from the independent conference has been extremely productive for my constituents in the 53rd senate district, but really all across New York state," Valesky said. 

That independence has rankled mainstream Democrats for awhile, and pressure to bring party officials together has become more urgent. State Democrats say if the IDC doesn’t come into the fold, they will primary existing members.

For Valesky, that could mean a potential primary against Rachel May of Syracuse. May is a member of True Blue 53, a group that’s been putting pressure on the 13-year incumbent for months now. Valesky says he’s not worried about that at this point, and calls any kind of decisions about the IDC premature. He says he’s focusing on issues facing lawmakers in the next session, including a possible $4 billion budget deficit.

"This is a time for governing," Valesky said. "There may be others who want to talk about politics, but my focus is on governing and it’s going to continue to be on governing.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.