Espada goes back to Dems, ending stalemate

(AP) - New York's Senate standoff ended Thursday asit started 31 days ago, with a freshman Democrat convulsing the62-seat house by switching sides and getting a powerful leadershippost in the majority.

Bronx Sen. Pedro Espada's return to the Democratic conferencegives Democrats a 32-30 majority for the first time since the June8 coup. As part of the deal, Espada takes the title of Senatemajority leader.

Espada's move comes after Democratic Gov. David Paterson'sshocking decision to appoint a lieutenant governor to preside overthe Senate, giving his party the upper hand in a chamber that'sbeen divided 31-31.

"It was never about power, but about empowerment," Espada saidat a news conference.

"As Democrats, we have differences of opinion, differentconcerns," said Sen. Malcolm Smith of Queens, now president of theSenate but no longer majority leader. "Yet at the end of the day,Democrats always come together."

Republicans accepted their return to the minority, where theywere for the past six months for the first time since 1965, butstill tried to claim some victory. They say the reforms adoptedduring the June 8 coup - which gives the minority equal resourcesand power to move bills - will serve them well and is animprovement over their status before the uprising.

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