Avella announced last week that he was joining the ranks of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), joining IDC Leader and Senate Co-President Jeff Klein (Bronx), Diane Savino (Staten Island), David Valesky (Oneida), and David Carlucci (Rockland/Westchester) in the conference, which first formed in January of 2011.
On Monday, former councilman and city comptroller John Liu endorsed Grace Meng in her re-election bid for Congress. At the event in Meng's district office, she and Liu were asked about Avella's decision to join the IDC.
In published reports, Meng called the decision “disappointing.” Meng's district overlaps heavily with Avella's Senate district, so the move definitely has an impact on her constituents.
But Liu had even harsher words for Avella, who actually represents Liu in the State Senate. He said Avella's decision makes it more difficult for Democrats to take back the Senate, which they had hoped to do by 2016, perhaps. Liu called the move “not totally shocking to people.”
“He hasn't certainly, not been the best team player,” he was quoted as saying.
On an unrelated note, Liu's endorsement puts to bed rumors that we here at Pol Position were hearing that Liu, now out of elected office but still very much a figure who enjoys being in the public eye, was considering challenging Meng for her seat.
It would have been a highly renegade move, as Meng is a rising star in the Queens Democratic Party and Liu, who undoubtedly would have been a formidable challenge, would have forced Meng to devote a lot of her time and resources to winning a costly primary. So that scenario was a bit of a long shot to say the least.
That said, Liu hasn't ruled out running for office in the future, and like we said, he does live in Avella's district, and now that Avella perhaps finds himself on the wrong side of party leadership, well, we're just sayin'.
But that's a discussion for another time.
And Liu is right, nobody has ever accused Avella of being a puppet who just tows the party line; he is often a loner out in front of issues and has been known on an occasion or two to rankle even his fellow Democrats.
For his part, Avella said that he joined the IDC so that he could better deliver for his constituents in an Albany that is often paralyzed by bipartisanship. Here's Avella's official statement on the decision:
“I am thrilled to be joining the Independent Democratic Conference. Under Senator Klein’s leadership, the IDC has developed a clear, progressive agenda for New York’s working families. They have shown an ability to get big things done, without the dysfunction of years past. From passing new gun control laws, to raising the minimum wage, Senator Klein and the IDC have shown us that great things are possible when you focus on results instead of politics. I look forward to being part of a team that has consistently delivered big results for New Yorkers.”