Yesterday, a meeting of the majority party of the New York State Assembly was held to determine if the Assembly Democrats would allow the bill sanctioning mixed martial arts to reach the floor for a vote. After the meeting, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced that his party was split evenly on the subject and that did not constitute the level of support necessary for the bill to see a vote. Effectively, this action by the Speaker killed New York MMA for another year. However, reports are surfacing that Silver’s “even split” estimate was patently false.
The first dissonant report was broken last night by the New York Daily News. An anonymous source within the meeting told the Daily News that an informal vote was taken to determine the support for MMA within the party. According to that source, the vote favored MMA about 60-25, far from an even split.
Speaker Silver is the most powerful political figure in the New York State Assembly, and directly contradicting him as a member of his own Democratic Party is the definition of career suicide. However, more disgruntled Democrats who supported the bill at the meeting have been leaking information to the media that Silver’s public assessment of the support for the MMA bill was just untrue.
The Fight Nerd.com has confirmed with two other sources close to the situation, both asking to remain anonymous, that the poll was indeed in 2-1 favor for the sport. The sources speaking with The Fight Nerd disagreed with the Daily News on the head count, saying that only around 70 of the 100 members declared any stance on the issue. Still, all reports say that the poll placed the Democrats in favor of MMA in the significant majority.
One man close to the issue who is not remaining anonymous is Republican Assemblyman Dean Murray. An outspoken proponent of the sanctioning of MMA, Murray took issue with the results of the Democratic meeting.
Read more on Murray’s reaction after the jump.
“[I was] extremely disappointed and, quite frankly, a little surprised,” said Murray. “From what I’ve heard speaking to members on the other side of the aisle, the support is there.”
The minority conference Murray belongs to looked at the bill last week and reported, according to Murray “overwhelming support” for mixed martial arts in the state of New York. Further, Murray’s work with Assembly Democrats led him to believe that a floor vote would be a slam dunk for MMA.
“I’ve done the head count,” said Murray. “If [the MMA bill] went to the floor tomorrow it would receive more ‘yea’ votes than same sex marriage, another controversial issue that passed, did last year.”
When asked about the discrepancies between Sheldon Silver’s report on the Democratic meeting and the report from inside sources, Murray mentioned that he had “heard something similar.”
Murray also mentioned his disdain for Silver’s decision to block the legislation from a vote on the floor.
“It’s his decision, meaning the Speaker,” said Murray. “We are one body. The Assembly isn’t just Democrats or Republicans. We are one body that deserves to take this to an up or down. This issue deserves an up or down vote and for one side of the aisle to make a unilateral decision to prevent that is just wrong.”