Ted O'Brien isn't seated in the State Senate yet, but he's already joining fellow Democrats calling for campaign finance reform. Specifically, he's backing Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal, which is essentially a conceptual plan that includes public financing of campaigns.
Last month, O'Brien defeated Republican Sean Hanna for an open seat in the Senate. The contest was one of the most expensive state races this year: combined, the candidates spent approximately $1.5 million. And the Democratic and Republican Senate campaign committees spent another $1.4 million, approximately, on the race.
Last week, O'Brien appeared alongside State Senator Tim Kennedy in Buffalo. They called for stronger disclosure requirements and backed Cuomo's idea of matching public funds for candidates.
But while Cuomo and many Assembly and Senate Democrats want to see significant campaign finance reform, they're worried that the Senate's new governing coalition may stand in the way. The five-member Independent Democratic Conference and the Senate Republicans have an agreement to share leadership duties in the Senate.
But recent remarks by IDC leader Jeff Klein and GOP conference leader Dean Skelos have been, at best, lukewarm toward campaign finance reform. And some Republican Senators oppose public financing of campaigns.
On an Albany talk radio program recently, Cuomo warned Skelos that if he stands in the way of his agenda, which also includes passing a minimum-wage increase, he'll oppose him — it's not clear what Cuomo meant. He also warned that he'd get involved in the issue of the Senate's leadership, which he's so far refrained from doing.