New York Governor to Introduce Gay Marriage Legislation

The New York governor's push for gay marriage tops this week's legislative charts.  Earlier today, The New York Times reported Patterson's intention to unveil legislation in support of homosexual unions. According to the governor, pushing for this legislation is a natural progression. As per the Times, he said, “The timing was always right...It’s just who is willing to take that step. And I am.” Considering his grim approval ratings, the move may be viewed as a strategic shift aimed at appeasing leftist voters.

Going back mere months, Patterson was catching heat from the left for his U.S. Senate pick. He selected Kirsten Gillibrand to fill former Sen. Hillary Clinton's seat, a move that was deemed unpopular by some liberals who viewed some of Gillibrand's more conservative stances unfavorably. Now, when the governor needs all of the political support he can get, he is taking on a tone that is undoubtedly more Democratically-pleasing.

Although he will surely gain support from the left, many New Yorkers on both sides of the aisle are disengaged with his policies following proposals for the “fat tax,” state levies on music downloads and other legislative gems.

Also, it's important to consider the impending effect the affirmation of his stance might have over his relationship with conservatives. According to the Times, “The governor also risks alienating socially conservative voters at a time when he can least afford to drive away any more support.”

Patterson's most recent actions might be construed as partisan, although one could also claim that his selection of Gillibrand, teamed with his support for gay marriage, provide an eclectic, somewhat moderate, take on a cornucopia of sociopolitical issues.

Either way, it is difficult to deny political motive in his timing, as he has had many months to make such a declaration, but has chosen to do so at the height of his unpopularity. Nonetheless, his announcement will be welcome news to gay marriage proponents both in-state and nation-wide who continue the fight for gay marriage.

Power Shift in New York State GOP

On Friday, April 3, New York State Assembly Republican Leader James Tedisco stepped down from his post to place a more intent focus on monitoring votes cast in his recent Congressional bid against Democrat Scott Murphy. This resignation, alone, shows the force of the political capital associated with the House seat recently vacated by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Last week, I wrote about the expectations both Democrats and Republicans have regarding the contested position.

While the Congressional battle rages on, in Albany, Republicans have nominated a new minority leader– Assemblyman Brian Kolb, a state representative from district 129.

According to the Poughkeepsie Journal, Kolb was “...unanimously selected for the post by the 41-member Republican conference.” Also mentioned and reaffirmed by the Journal is the massive democratic lead in number of assemblymen and women (109-41) – a scary disparity for anyone hoping for Republican rejuvenation.

However, uniformity in selection is a good sign that Republicans are cohesively supportive of Kolb – a boundedness Republicans have been missing since well before the 2008 presidential election. Although New York State's Assembly represents only a small microcosm of the United States when it comes to political occurrence, this development may be significant in that it may be signaling the beginnings of a more united front.

Aside from the unanimity shown in selecting Kolb, there are a number of factors that point to a party focused on resurgence. This, of course, must be led by the assembly's new GOP leadership; so far, Kolb is showing the proper mindset.

In an effort to offer the GOP caucus a consistent leadership model, Kolb has stated that he will not run for Congress next year. With devotion in mind, Republicans can be hopeful that Kolb will ascertain the ability to lead the legislative charge against the assembly's doubly-large Democratic majority.

According to the Gotham Gazette, “Tedisco was known for his theatrics and headline-grabbing stunts but Kolb is expected to take a more strategic approach.” This may have implications for possible party growth or disability, depending on how Kolb engages his constituents.

Only time will tell if the recent power change will help or hurt the Republican cause.