Could Cuomo be wooing Klein back into regular Democratic fold?

Could Gov. Cuomo be trying to woo Senator Jeff Klein and his five-member Independent Democratic Conference back to the regular Democratic fold?

Cuomo just cut a deal with the Working Families Party for their ballot line after pledging (with his fingers crossed behind his back?) to bring Senate control back to the majority Democratic Conference.

That might include wooing Jeff away from co-leadership with Senate Republicans, back to the regular Dems camp.

“They’d welcome Jeff back with open arms,” opined one astute political pro, asking for anonymity. “And if it required them to grit their teeth and make him co-leader, they would do it – with the governor pushing for it.”

Meanwhile, Riverdale’s Oliver Koppell, who’s mounted a primary challenge against Jeff, also grabbed the Working Families Party endorsement. But Ollie still has a ways to push that boulder up the hill, against Jeff’s fat warchest, a slew of endorsements, and on his wider home field.

While Jeff might take some heat on issues that haven’t managed to make it through the Republican-IDC funnel, as the late, great House Speaker Tip O’Neill’s famous quote goes, all politics is local. Just how much will the district voters care about issues when Jeff has been copiously delivering constituent services and funding to local groups?

“Jeff does the most work on the community level,” said a local “no name, please” Dem district leader. “You can’t outshout him on that. And that’s where the votes are.”

PETITIONING

With nominating petition gathering kicking off May 29, here are some interesting sidenotes:

• Bye-bye Albany? Charlie Rangel challenger Adriano Espaillat isn’t hedging his bets. His spokeswoman told us he is NOT also petition gathering for his Upper Manhattan/Marble Hill state senate seat. But then again, the last time Espaillat challenged Charlie, he managed to jump back in with petitions for his state seat with only four or so days left to meet the filing deadline. This time around, the timing may not work for him. Although, he COULD always make it on to the senate race ballot line if his candidate dropped out to run for a judgeship and subsituted Adriano’s name on the ballot.

• Solo Serranos. Looks like the so-called political sins of the father are landing on the son. The Bronx Democratic organization is leaving state Senator Jose M. Serrano as well as his dad, long time South Bronx Congressman Jose Serrano, to gather their own nominating petitions. Seems County and Boro Prez Ruben Diaz Jr. are on the outs with the senior Serrano over his cutting federal funds to the Fresh Direct move into his district and funding to Ruben’s Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp.

While the Serranos don’t have that much of a political organization, neither faces any great challenges this go-round.

• Empty clubhouse. Looks like that plan by state Senator Jeff Klein and Morris Park Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj to form their own mega-political club hasn’t materialized, at least not in time for this primary. They had to fall back to relying on the 80th Assembly District’s Liberty Democratic Association to gather their nominating petitions.

PROPS TO GARY

Congrats to BronxTalk host Gary Axelbank, who got three of the four candidates in the 13th Congressional District race to show their props to the Bronx and agree to a televised debate.

After some initial bow outs, Rep. Charlie Rangel, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, and Rev. Michael Walrond will pre-record the debate on Friday, June 13, to be aired at 9 p.m. Monday, June 16 over BronxNet channel 67 and Fios 33 and repeated through the week. It’ll also be streamed live and archived at www.bronxnet.org.

With Rangel edging Espaillat out by only a thousand votes last time around, voters in the 20 percent of the congressional district that covers the Bronx could very well determine the outcome of this panting horse race.

COP CORNER

Passings. Friend and retired detective James (Barney) Ferguson, at age 77. A tough guy with a heart of gold – and the only cop to march as THE grand marshal of the BIG St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Police Commissioners Ray Kelly and Michael Codd were considered civilians when they were honored.

LOVE BIRDS

Congrats on their marriage to former Bronx Times Reporter and current Norwood News editor David Cruz and Madeline Kwok.

BRONX BIRTHDAYS

June 10 – former Gov. Eliot (Socks) Spitzer

June 12 – Actress Sonia Manzano (Maria of Sesame Street).

Reach Editor Bob Kappstatter at (718) 742–3395. E-mail him at bkappstatter@cnglocal.com.

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