ALBANY – There’s a new leader in the State Senate.
Former Senate leader Dean Skelos stepped down as leader of the New York Senate on Monday in the wake of federal corruption charges and was quickly replaced by another Long Island Republican, Sen. John Flanagan.
Albany insiders speculate that Flanagan’s appointment as the new Senate leader was a key condition in Skelos agreeing to leave his leadership post. Authorities arrested Skelos a week ago on charges that he used his position to extort payments for his son, Adam Skelos, who is also charged. Both men say they are innocent.
The Republican Skelos is the sixth legislative leader to face criminal charges or scandal in Albany since 2008. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, stepped down from his leadership position in January.
Flanagan emerged as the new leader after a three-hour, closed-door meeting with his Republicans colleagues. Less than an hour later, the Senate officially elected Flanagan with a show of 32 hands: all 31 Republicans present – including Senator Cathy Young – voted for Flanagan, as did Democrat Simcha Felder, of Brooklyn, who sits with the GOP.
It was the narrowest majority possible in the 63-seat chamber.
Flanagan is an attorney and 29-year legislative veteran who also spent time in the Assembly. He most recently served as chair of the Senate’s Education Committee. He also came to Jamestown in 2012 as part of an education roundtable forum hosted by Senator Young, focusing on regional school districts for rural areas in upstate New York.