Vying to Be Majority Leader,
Minority Leader Gains a Vote
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Malcolm A. Smith, the minority leader of the New York State Senate, has gained the support of one of the four dissident Democrats who had been refusing to back him as majority leader when the new Legislature is seated in January.
Hiram Monserrate, a City Councilman from Queens who was elected to the Senate last week, said in an interview here on Saturday that he would support Mr. Smith.
Mr. Monserrate, one of dozens of elected officials attending a conference on Latino issues, added, “I have come to the conclusion that with Malcolm Smith, we have responsible leadership that is prepared to lead us through trying times.”
On Tuesday, Democrats won 32 of 62 seats in the chamber, giving them a majority for the first time in more than four decades. But four of the Democrats — Pedro Espada Jr. and Rubén Díaz Sr. of the Bronx, Carl Kruger of Brooklyn and Mr. Monserrate — initially refused to support Mr. Smith, leading to fears among other Democrats that they might cut a deal with the Republicans.
Mr. Espada and Mr. Díaz, who have both had warm relations with Senate Republicans in the past, have said in recent days that they expected the Senate would be led by Democrats in January.
With three Latino lawmakers among the dissidents, the annual Somos el Futuro conference here has taken on unusual significance. And Dean G. Skelos, the majority leader and a Republican from Long Island, has arrived to make his pitch directly to dissident Democrats.
Mr. Monserrate would not offer details of what, if any, commitments Mr. Smith had made to him in exchange for his support.
“This was never for me an issue of what I was going to get in return; this was always about ideas and ideals,” he said.