By Danny Schrafel
It’s official: Republican State Senator John Flanagan (R-East Northport), chair of the State Senate’s Education Committee, has replaced Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) as Majority Leader.
Skelos resigned the post Monday amidst a federal corruption and influence-peddling scandal. Flanagan will serve as Majority Leader and Temporary President of the New York Senate. He is expected to remain in the State Senate, allowing the Republicans to hold a slim 33-vote majority in the 63-member body and outright control of the legislative body without sharing power.
While an Albany insider expected Flanagan largely to maintain the status quo that Skelos established when it comes to policy – the downstate Republican caucus has been in “lockstep with the Governor on practically everything” under Skelos’ leadership, the source said – having a Long Islander at the wheel of the State Senate means state education and infrastructure dollars will remain a priority.
“I am confident he will unite our conference and continue our tradition of protecting taxpayers, supporting our schools and creating jobs,” Senator Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) said after Flanagan was sworn in. “I believe Senator Skelos did the right thing by voluntarily stepping back as leader to focus on his defense. This will remove any, real or perceived distraction to the important work we must accomplish before session concludes.”
Stanley Klein, an LIU Post political science professor, political analyst and Huntington GOP committeeman, said Flanagan’s ascent to power is “good – very good” for Long Island.
Flanagan, who lives in the Town of Huntington and represents a district largely comprised of Smithtown township, served in the Assembly for 16 years before rising to the Senate in 2002. In the Assembly, he succeeded his father, John Flanagan Sr., who served from 1973 until his death in 1986.
At home, the father of three is married to Lisa Perez Flanagan, who is active with Northport High School’s Students for 60,000 philanthropic organization, which focuses a great deal of its charitable efforts in Nicaragua.
Check this week’s print version for more on what Flanagan’s new position could mean for Huntington.