NY state Senate deadlocked after defector Dem switches back

The drama is only beginning in New York's state Senate.

Sen. Hiram Monserrate, one of two Democrats to switch allegiances and hand power to Republicans last week, now says he will return to the Democratic fold.

That means the chamber that began 32-30 in favor of Democrats, then went 32-30 in favor of Republicans, is now deadlocked at 31-31.

Monserrate's return comes after Democrats replaced their leader, Sen. Malcolm Smith, with Sen. John Sampson. Monserrate and other Democrats had clashed with Smith, leading to the two defections last week.

Democrats say they will form some sort of power-sharing arrangement, and one has to wonder how this will affect the other defector - current Senate President Pedro Espada. It's not clear what the power split would look like, but if Espada loses his presidency, will he still stand with Republicans?

For now, Espada is sticking with the Republicans, and he told the Albany Times-Union that he will fight any effort to strip him of his presidency.

"I will go to my grave defending the 32 votes that were cast last Monday," he said.

Complicating matters is the fact that New York state law makes the lieutenant governor the tie-breaking vote in the state Senate and - Wouldn't you know it? - there is no lieutenant governor right now (since former Lt. Gov. David Paterson ascended after Gov. Eliot Spitzer's resignation).