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Deals Cut to make Smith Head of State Senate

Friday, December 05, 2008

Three dissident Democrats have come to an agreement and will support Malcolm Smith to head the New York State Senate. It's the first time Democrats take control of the chamber in more than 40 years.

Bronx Sens. Ruben Diaz Sr. and Pedro Espada Jr., along with Brooklyn Sen. Carl Krueger were being wooed by Republicans to support their agenda, and abandon Smith. But after a closed-door meeting yesterday, sources say the senators were promised influential posts and committee assignments. Smith's spokesman, Hank Sheinkopf, says the support will make a big difference.

SHEINKOPF: Real rules changes, an African American as leader of the Senate, the consequences are extraordinary, Democrats in charge and it's a historic shift in New York State politics.

REPORTER: Under the deal, Smith will become Senate president pro-tempore while Espada will become majority leader. Come January, Democrats will hold a slim majority in the chamber, with 32 seats compared to the Republicans' 30.

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