Primary challenge being called "political extortion" by state senator

Syracuse Common Councilor Jean Kessner is challenging Dave Valesky for his State Senate seat, to get him to abandon a bipartisan senate caucus. Valesky calls it "political extortion"

Albany politics is having an effect on Central NY politics, with an incumbent state senator, facing a primary challenge, over the way he does business in the legislature.

Syracuse Common Councilor Jean Kessner says she'll challenge Senator Dave Valesky, whose 53rs State Senate district includes Oneida, Madison and parts of Onondaga County. Kessner says 'the Democrats should be in control of the Senate, that's what it's about.'

Valesky counters, saying 'talk of a primary is nothing but political extortion, in that he's being told there will be no challenge if he agrees to return to the Democratic caucus.

Valesky is part of the Independent Democratic Conference, which has been working with Republicans in the State Senate.

Democrats have a one seat majority in the senate, and Kessner says that the IDC hurts the party.

Kessner says she got the idea for the challenge after Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to the Working Familes Party (in exchange for its endorsement) that he would work to bring the senators back to the Senate Democratic Conference or work for their defeat. Albany political observer Susan Arbetter confirms that Cuomo did make that pledge, but that Senate Democrats now seem to be moving toward reconcile with the group rather than challenge them.

Valesky defends his work with the IDC, saying it has streamlined the government process and gotten budgets passed on time. He also told us from Albany on Monday afternoon that he does plan to run for re-election---as a Democrat.

The deadline for filing primary petitions is July 10th.