NEW YORK NOW – After five years of leading Republicans in the State Senate — first in the majority, and more recently in the minority — Senate Republican Leader John Flanagan said Tuesday that he’ll leave elected office altogether later this month, creating an opening for a new leader.
Flanagan, R-Suffolk, had already decided not to seek reelection this year, but said Tuesday he’ll fast-track his exit from the Senate later this month to pursue an opportunity in the private sector.
“Today I would like to let you know that effective June 28th, I am formally retiring from the Senate to pursue an opportunity in the private sector,” Flanagan said in a statement.
“I am a lifelong New Yorker, and never more proud of that fact than at this very moment. Despite unprecedented challenges over the last few months, Empire State residents have been profoundly resilient, and I am inspired by their fortitude and optimism.”
Flanagan didn’t provide details on his next move, but the New York Post reported Tuesday that he’d accepted a job as vice president of regional governmental affairs for Northwell Health.
A lawyer by trade, Flanagan previously left his job at law firm Forchelli Deegan Terrana LLP in 2015 when he was elected to lead the Republican conference in the State Senate.
Flanagan’s rise to power was among the most significant events of the last decade in Albany. He replaced former Sen. Dean Skelos, D-Nassau, in the top position after Skelos was charged by federal prosecutors of using his power in office to arrange a no-show job for his son.
That same year, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks in a referral scheme. He was replaced by current Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx.
While Heastie has continued to lead the majority in his chamber, Flanagan has not.
Republicans lost the majority in the State Senate in the 2018 elections, pushing Flanagan to the position of Senate Minority Leader. But for three years, he was among the most powerful figures in the state, negotiating the state budget and key pieces of legislation each year.
His departure will set off another race, internally, in which Republicans will choose their new leader in the Senate.
As of Tuesday afternoon, two lawmakers had expressed interest: State Sen. Pat Gallivan and State Sen. Rob Ortt. Both Republicans represent areas of Western New York.
Gallivan, in a statement, said his priority would be to take the majority back from Democrats in the State Senate, and shift power from the governor’s office to the Legislature.
“We must take back the legislative authority ceded by the current majority to ensure that all New
Yorkers have a voice in their government. We start by taking back the Senate majority,” Gallivan said.
“I intend to seek the support of my colleagues in the Senate minority conference to serve as their leader as we work to put New York on a better path.”