From the Morning Memo:

Republican Rob Astorino did not see eye to eye with Senate Republicans when he ran for governor last year.

His campaign was in open disagreement with the majority leader at the time, Nassau County’s Dean Skelos over working too closely with Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

A top Astorino advisor even contemplated running for a suburban state Senate seat and published a blistering essay critical of the GOP conference.

But now, Skelos is out of the Senate’s leadership structure following his arrest in May on corruption charges, and was replaced by Suffolk County Sen. John Flanangan.

For Astorino, the new majority leader gets an “incomplete,” but in a Capital Tonight interview on Thursday, he spoke highly of Flanagan’s prospects as a leader in Albany.

“It’s an incomplete. He just started,” said Astorino, the Westchester County executive. “He took over in terrible circumstances, so give him time. I think John Flanagan can be and is a great senator for Long Island and he can be a great leader.”

Restive upstate advocates who supported Syracuse Sen. John DeFrancisco’s bid for majority leader where disappointed to see another downstate member ascend to the majority leader post in a chamber that is the last lever of power controlled statewide by Republicans.

At the same time, they point to Flanagan’s vote in favor of the 2013 gun control law known as the SAFE Act (Flanagan and the Senate passed a package of SAFE Act changes at the end of session, but those measures were unlikely to be taken up in the Democratic-led Assembly).

Astorino, who is contemplating a second run for governor in 2018, urged Republicans in the chamber to take a more assertive posture on policy with Cuomo and Democrats in Albany writ large.

“The Republican Senate has to stand for something,” he said.

For now, Astorino remains critical of Albany and the $142 billion budget approved in April.

“I’m still very passionate about most of the things that I talked about last year and most of the things that I talked about, I’ve been vindicated on,” Astorino said, pointing to the series of corruption arrests and the state’s low rankings in economic studies.

Astorino may have some competition for the Republican nomination in 2018: Rep. Chris Gibson, a Hudson Valley Republican, is also considering a bid for governor in 2018.