Cuomo Distances Himself From Dem Split in Senate

Sen. Jeffrey Klein said Cuomo had told him he supports each member of the caucus but never condoned nor opposed the dicey political move that Klein led

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    AP
    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his first State of the State address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, N.Y., Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

    Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday distanced himself from a split among Senate Democrats by members who said he supported them.

    Six days after four Democrats formed what they call an independent Democratic caucus, Cuomo said he neither supports nor opposes the caucus that has weakened the Democratic conference.

    Three senior Democrats and a freshman said they formed the caucus because they oppose their parties leaders in the Senate.

    Democrats lost the Senate majority in the November elections after two often chaotic years in charge.

    The caucus announced its plans last week just before Cuomo's State of the State speech with an agenda that mirrors Cuomo's plans.

    Sen. Jeffrey Klein said Cuomo had told him he supports each member of the caucus but never condoned nor opposed the dicey political move that Klein led.

    "I didn't even know about it until the faction was imminent," Cuomo said. "I had no knowledge. I didn't approve or disapprove. Frankly, it's none of my business."

    Relations between Klein, the former deputy majority leader, and his caucus members have grown even more strained with Democratic Senate Minority Leader John Sampson since the split, lawmakers said. The caucus members said Monday they expect to sometimes vote with the Republican majority.

    "It's important for all of us to work in a bipartisan fashion to move Gov. Cuomo's legislative agenda forward," Klein said.