A new pact uniting New York Democrats may be good news for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s chances in upcoming November elections.

That’s because a united party could take back the New York State Senate from the Republicans, bolstering Cuomo’s fortunes against upstart challenger Cynthia Nixon, a progressive who has the support of many New York liberals.

The deal welcomes the eight-member, breakaway Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC), which caucused with the Republicans in the New York Senate, back into the Democratic fold. Republicans currently hold a thin 31–30 majority in the 63-seat State Senate. The deal could mean a shift of control if the Democrats win two special elections for open Senate seats on April 24.

But even if Democrats win both races, State Senator Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), who separately caucuses with the Republicans, could still tip the balance of power to the GOP. Felder, who made headlines recently when he held up the state budget over a demand to reduce state oversight of yeshivah high schools and religious schools and ease curriculum requirements, told Mishpacha that he would not make a decision until after the April elections.

Felder, who was first elected to the Senate in 2012 after Senate Republicans carved out a “Super Jewish District” — one that lumped together a number of Brooklyn Jewish neighborhoods — has caucused with the Republican majority ever since. Felder’s recent legislative victory, achieved minutes before the start of Pesach, also shed light on his unique position in the upper chamber. In a recent interview with Mishpacha, Felder attributed his legislative victories — which include measures like door-to-door transportation and helping special-needs children — to the “nature of the leverage that I have where I am.”

During a press conference at his Manhattan office, Cuomo said that a Democratic majority could not rely on a Felder vote. “Simcha Felder, I call the question mark,” the governor said. “He has different philosophical views than many of the people in this conference. When you look at the things that we want to pass, I don’t know that he is philosophically in accordance with those issues. So really we need to win additional seats in November.”

And if the Democrats don’t win an outright majority and Felder is the tiebreaker, what might the party leadership offer Felder to bring him back? “I think this is an issue that will be addressed after the special elections,” a Cuomo administration official told Mishpacha.

According to Democratic Party campaign consultant Hank Sheinkopf, Cuomo’s recent rapprochement with the IDC has more to do with the November election than control in the State Senate. “This is just about Andrew Cuomo getting Cynthia Nixon off his back,” Sheinkopf said. “This happened because Nixon kept harping at the lack of the governor’s progressive credentials.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 705)