ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A state Senator from Queens is joining the group of breakaway Democrats that share control of the Senate, dealing a blow to the traditional Democrats in the minority of that house.
An aide says Wednesday that Sen. Tony Avella will become the fifth member of the Independent Democratic Conference. Aide Anna Aulova says the switch is effective immediately.
The IDC rules the state Senate in a coalition with Republicans. Avella's switch effectively gives the coalition 35 votes in the 63-seat chamber, and it makes it harder for traditional Democrats to gain control of the Senate in elections this November.
A spokesman for Senate Democrats says that it's "unfortunate that progressive policies continue to be stymied because of divisions created by Senators who choose to empower Republicans."