ALBANY, N.Y. -- Support is faltering in the state Senate and across the Republican Party in New York to keep Dean Skelos as majority leader. Democrats on Wednesday sought to capitalize on that by attempting to oust him from power.
"He lied to the public. He lied to the public. It's shameful. It's shameful," said Sen. Mike Gianaris, D-Queens.
Skelos faces federal corruption charges and has insisted he is innocent. Democrats, meanwhile, plan to keep pushing the issue of Skelos hanging on as majority leader, despite the charges.
"Clearly they don't want a vote. If they had everyone voting to keep Senator Skelos, there would be no issue," said Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers.
At least five Republicans in the Senate have publicly called on Skelos to resign as leader. County Republican chairmen, including in Erie County and Suffolk County, have also called on Skelos to step aside, but Governor Andrew Cuomo declined to.
"My job is to work with whoever they send me and to try to get to use and to try to make the relationship work," said Cuomo, D-New York.
Nevertheless, Cuomo called the allegations against Skelos troubling and hoped they wouldn't disrupt the session.
"If the charges are correct, it's deeply disturbing and the narrative the papers present is deeply disturbing and troubling."
The Democratic effort to oust Skelos came on a day celebrating West Point, which some GOP lawmakers found inappropriate.
"We had West Point cadets in the room when they started their shenanigans," said Sen. James Seward, R-Oneonta. "I thought it was very distasteful.
Republicans said on Monday there is a consensus among GOP lawmakers to keep Skelos, but Sen. John DeFrancisco is unsure whether Skelos will still hold the leader's post by next Monday.
"I have no idea. There's got to be something that changes the mind of the conference and the conference's position on it," said DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse.
Lawmakers now return to their disticts and to, potentially, hear from their constituents on what to do about Skelos.