N.Y. Senate Expels Dem Assaulter; Monserrate Says He'll Appeal

You remember Hiram Monserrate, yes? He's the Queens Democrat who played a key role in the New York State Senate's upheaval last June when he (and an ally) briefly left his party to join the GOP — giving the Republicans control of the Senate, briefly — that led to weeks of recriminations, threats and paralysis.

During my breathless reporting of the coup last year, I quoted this passage from the New York Post's Carl Campanile's profile of Monserrate:

Indicted for allegedly slashing his girlfriend in the face with a broken glass. ... [He] was charged with six counts of assaulting his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo. She needed 20 stitches over her left eye. Security cameras in his apartment complex show Monserrate dragging her out of the building on Dec. 19. The same cameras show her desperately banging on a neighbor's door seeking help during the incident, just a month after his election to the Senate. The lawmaker pleaded not guilty and insisted the blows to his girlfriend were an accident. He is awaiting trial.

Since then, Monserrate was acquitted of the felony charge of cutting his girlfriend's face, which would have resulted in an automatic expulsion from the Senate. Instead, he was convicted of a misdemeanor assault charge.

Nonetheless, the Democratic-controlled Senate voted 53-8 last night to expel Monserrate — the fourth state lawmaker ever expelled ... and the first since 1861.

The Democratic majority now shrinks to 31-30. At that means, writes the New York Daily News' Blain & Lovett, the Dems "now lack the 32 votes to pass anything without Republican help." More:

The ordeal has further splintered a fractured Democratic conference that fought bitterly over Monserrate's fate.

Monserrate supporters expressed concern about the precedent of making him the first senator ever booted because of a misdemeanor conviction.

They claim his expulsion is payback for his role in a GOP-leadership coup that shut down the Senate for a month last year.

"Ladies and gentlemen, go ahead and get even - enjoy it," an angry Sen. Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) said, charging there were ethnic undertones to the expulsion.

Hogwash, said GOP state Sen. Martin Golden of Brooklyn:

He caused a violent act against a woman, and he doesn't belong here. As sad as it is, it has to be done.

Gov. David Paterson (D) immediately called for a March 16 special election to fill Monserrate's seat.

Monserrate said he would appeal his ouster, saying he hoped that none of his colleagues "slip up one day and find themselves 'at the mercy of certain colleagues with unfortunate political agendas'":

I know that my behavior has brought unwelcome discredit to this chamber, and for that, I am deeply sorry. But, as Rev. Jesse Jackson once said, 'God isn't through with me yet.'

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