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GONZALEZ_CarlosIt's a coup-coup's nest at the Capitol.

With six months before the general election, several names have surfaced regarding the potential replacement of Senate's top Democrat

The current Senate Minority Leader, John Sampson (D-Brooklyn), vows to remain on as leader and compares the uprising to replace him as "family squabbles."

Sampson's nest unrest were made public last week when he got pigeon pooped by the New York Daily News who exposed the Democratic conference's rising no-confidence sentiment in their leader.  

After the loss of key Democratic races, months of negative press, and after the most recent report on Sampson authorizing a $50,000 raise for a close confidant on senior staff, coup discussions have gained traction.

The $50,000 raise never happened, but that's only after Democrats got wind of the story through the New York Daily News.

One member called the Sampson paycheck maneuver as  "legalized taxpayer extortsion."

Another member indicated it was "time for change," citing that Sampson's rise was merely meant to be temporary.  

We spoke with Westchester's own Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson who currently serves as the Democratic Conference Chair, a position appointed by Sampson.

Hassell-Thompson admitted that she’s had discussions pertaining to succeeding Sampson, but denied initiating them.

“There are several of my colleagues who suggested to me that I might take the leadership," said Hassell-Thompson.  "It was suggested to me though, not the other way around."

When asked if she would be interested in being Minority Leader, Hassell-Thompson didn't dismiss interest.

“I’d be lying if I said that everybody doesn’t think about it at one time or another,” she said.

“Certainly I have given thought to it, but I haven’t taken any action toward it.”

Hassell-Thompson added that she was “not prepared to say” whether Sampson should remain leader this year, or next year, when a new Legislature is seated following this fall’s elections.

Leadership discussions are not new around the Capitol.  We can confirm that the leadership chatter commenced last spring when members quietly floated the name of Hassell-Thompson, but they've also suggested others.   Senator Hassel-Thompson dismissed our inquiry last June stating that she had no interest on challenging Sampson and was focused on her legislative platform.

A year later, clearly things have changed.

A few Democratic senators dismissed the notion that Hassell-Thompson is a credible candidate.  Most of those critical of Hassell-Thompson's potential leadership  are deeply embedded in Sampson's status quo team, or most likely have an agenda themselves.  

Some suggested Hassell-Thompson is too old, opinionated and too aggressive.  Others state that she is not strong with fundraising, something Democrats need in order to compete.  One other member cited previous health issues as a concern.

When asked about not being considered credible, the fiesty Democrat shot back admitting that she "may be opinionated and considered aggressive, but things have to get done," and that if she were a male in politics, these words would not be used to describe her. 

She has a point.

Insiders have also floated the name of Senator Stewart-Cousins, a Yonkers Democrat.

Stewart-Cousins expressed support for Sampson and said she is focused on her legislative work, thus taking the heat off of her.  Another member being rumored for potential is Senator Liz Kruger (D-NYC) who was unavailable for comment.  

Meanwhile, we caught up with Senator Sampson who attended Senator Hassell-Thompson's forum on Domestic Violence in the Legislative Office Building.  

Sampson indicated that the Democrats are interested in discussing the issues affecting the residents of New York State.  

"We're not going to be sidetracked by any antics pertaining to the leadership," said Sampson.

That may be true, so long as he has the majority.  

Share your thoughts with Carlos Gonzalez, The Albany Correspondent, by directing email to



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