A decade ago, Democrats in the state Senate in New York were in the political wilderness. Its leadership was scarred by scandal. A faction of Democratic lawmakers sided with Republicans. A Democratic governor showed little interest in helping them win a majority.
At the time, the party turned to Yonkers state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins to lead them. Ten years later, Democrats hold a large majority that was nearly impervious to the down-ballot troubles faced by the party this election cycle and could potentially keep its supermajority.
Stewart-Cousins on Wednesday was unanimously re-elected the Democratic conference leader in the state Senate. The first Black woman to hold the majority leader post, she is one of three people who control the agenda in Albany and negotiate the state budget along with the governor and Assembly speaker.
“I am honored and humbled to be re-elected by my Democratic colleagues to continue my service as Majority Leader of the New York State Senate,” she said. “Since holding the majority, we have enacted historic legislation that helps and expands New Yorkers’ rights and builds a stronger and fairer state for all residents. The voters made their voices heard on election day by once again electing a strong democratic majority, and we expect a Super Majority pending the final results of one race. I am thrilled that our majority continues to represent the diversity of the entire state and for the first time ever we have an incoming class of all women. I am extremely proud of our Senate Majority’s legislative blueprint for the rest of the nation to follow.”
Stewart-Cousins leadership team will also carry over into 2023. Queens Democratic Sen. Mike Gianaris will remain deputy leader and and Jose Serrano the chairman of the majority conference.
“Even after the unprecedented accomplishments of our historic majority, there remains much work ahead to protect New Yorkers’ rights against erosions coming from the federal and state court systems," Gianaris said. "From protecting voting reforms, to improving our criminal justice system and getting guns off the streets, to keeping our state a stronghold for working people, and fighting for a greener New York, I am proud of the work we've done with the largest majority in history and look forward to continuing our efforts in the new year.”
Hours later on Wednesday, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie was also re-nominated to serve as the chamber's top speaker. The Bronx Democrat is expected to handily win the post when lawmakers reconvene next year.
"In my time as speaker, we have worked together to advance a Families First agenda, fighting to bring down the cost of childcare and increase access, to put higher education within reach for more New Yorkers, to implement tax cuts that put families’ hard earned money back into their pockets," Heastie said. "We have worked to even the scales of our criminal justice system. And we have passed legislation to support our environmental goals and to create green jobs."
He added, "Together we have made great strides here in New York, but I know that our work is not done."