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Senate leadership in question

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Senate leadership in question
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Senate Minority Leader John Sampson's position as head of the conference is in question with one conference member suggesting she would like to succeed him. Our Nick Reisman has the story.

NEW YORK STATE -- The Senate Democratic conference has faced its share of problems over the last several years and now may be on the verge of yet another leadership crisis. The troubles started anew after Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson of Mount Vernon told The Daily News she is interested in replacing Minority Leader John Sampson, possibly this year. On Wednesday, she didn't deny her interest in being leader.

“Yes, we did discuss what was out there and I guess as somebody who was partly responsible for bringing him to leadership, he was very hurt and he would have felt that was a discussion he and I should have had if it was an issue,” Hassell-Thompson said.

Senate Minority Leader John Sampson said he was certain he will remain in charge of the conference.

“I am confident that John Sampson is the leader. I will be the leader. I'm confident about that,” Sampson said.

Sampson says he was to continue his focus on policy, not internal squabbles.

“We're not going to be sidetracked by any antics dealing with the leadership or anything like that,” Sampson said,

Sampson emerged as a compromise leader for the then-majority Democrats following the 2009 leadership coup in the Senate. But his shaky control over the conference and some questionable decisions led to four Democrats to breakaway and form a coalition with the Senate Republicans. Jeff Klein, the IDC's leader, wasn't shocked by the news of leadership troubles.

“Well, I'm not surprised and no I don't have a crystal ball and it's unfortunate,” Klein said.

The IDC also wants to expand and even support primaries against some Democrats. Klein didn't rule out helping Albany County Legislator Shawn Morse in his bid to unseat incumbent Neil Breslin.

“He's certainly the type of person that I think would fit very well with the IDC,” Klein said.

Compounding Democratic troubles is the speculation that Governor Andrew Cuomo won't support their bid to retake power in the Senate considering how well he's worked with Republican lawmakers. When pressed by reporters last week, Cuomo said he plans to continue focusing on governing and not politics.

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