Capital New York:
A decision by Queens State Senator Tony Avella to defect from the chamber's traditional Democratic faction to its Republican-allied Independent Democratic Conference is a coup for the I.D.C., boosting its ranks on the eve of major legislative negotiations and cementing its existence (and some type of Republican control) going into the November election cycle.
It is, first and foremost, a matter of numbers. After two retirements, the chamber is governed by a coalition of 29 Republicans, the now-five-member I.D.C., and Simcha Felder, a Brooklyn Democrat who sits with the Republicans. There are 24 members of the mainstream Democratic conference, as well as two Democrats under federal indictment—John Sampson of Brooklyn and Malcolm Smith of Queens—who remain senators but are not invited into private confabs.
It takes 32 votes to pass a bill.