NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York state Senate Republicans and two rogue Democrats said they wrested control of the Senate from the Democratic leadership on Monday in an unresolved dispute that had both sides claiming victory.
The chaos threatened to throw a range of pending bills into disarray, including pension reform, New York City's mayoral control of the schools, and gay marriage.
A gay marriage bill has passed the Democrat-led Assembly, but faces a more difficult vote in the Senate regardless of which party is in charge and in spite of Democratic Governor David Paterson's strong support.
The Republicans were attempting to regain control of the state Senate, a last bastion of GOP power in the state of New York that fell into Democratic hands for the first time in decades after the November 2008 elections.
It was part of a larger electoral trend in which the Republicans lost ground in the Northeastern United States in particular.
The drama unfolded as a shouting match erupted on the Senate floor with the Democrats walking out and shutting off the lights and video cameras while the Republicans attempted to replace Democratic Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith.
Republicans said a motion to replace Smith won by a vote of 32 to 30, with two Democrats voting with all 30 Republicans to name Republican Senator Dean Skelos to the post.