By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
In this year of political firsts, Malcolm Smith has secured his chance to become the first-ever African American politician to preside over the New York State Senate (he’s also the first Democrat in four decades).
But for this Smith had to earn the support of two Latino senators from The Bronx who seem to have strong-armed fellow Democrats into granting one of them, Pedro Espada Jr., the position of majority leader, before they would support Smith. (This is an unprecedented split, since tradition holds that the Senate president also serves as majority leader.)
The New York Times, which reported on the new power distribution, said the deal makes Espada, who has just returned to the State Senate, “arguably the most influential Hispanic elected official in New York.”
“It’s a moment of great pride for our community,” Espada told El Diario/La Prensa newspaper. “It’s the first time in this state that we celebrate a power sharing agreement. Smith will occupy the first position and I, the second, in legislative and state affairs.”