Rally touts Stewart-Cousins for majority leader

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A push to make Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins the first black female majority leader in the history of the state Senate is gaining steam.

Dozens of supporters rallied Monday at the Harriet Tubman Memorial Plaza in Harlem. The rally was organized by state Sen. Brian Benjamin (D-Harlem), one of those pushing for Stewart-Cousins to become majority leader.

The Westchester Democrat is currently the Senate minority leader and is the first woman to lead a legislative conference in Albany.

Democrats hold the majority in the state Senate, but they do not control the chamber.That's because eight of their 32 members call themselves Independents and one actually caucuses with Republicans. Current and former local and state politicians say it's time for the nine renegade Democrats to toe the party line and throw their support behind her.

Many supporters believe race is likely a factor preventing Stewart-Cousins from ascending to the majority leader position. In a controversial Facebook post last Thursday, billionaire hedge fund manager and charter school advocate Daniel Loeb accused the senator of "doing more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood."

Stewart-Cousins is a supporter of public schools. Her spokesman and supporters have called Loeb's comment outrageous and offensive.

A representative for Gov. Andrew Cuomo was at Monday’s rally. Cuomo has said he supports Stewart-Cousins in her bid to become Senate majority leader.

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