State Senate

Akshar Touts ‘Fresh Face’ Versus Fiala’s Experience

aksharFrom the Morning Memo:

Republican Senate hopeful Fred Akshar launched his campaign on Monday seeking to draw a contrast to his better known Democratic rival: Sure, she has experience, but he is a “fresh face.”

“The community needs a fresh face, fresh ideas and I have the passion and dedication to bring that to Albany,” said Akshar, the Broome County undersheriff.

It’s a phrase he used often during the campaign kick off event for his bid to replace Tom Libous in the Southern Tier Senate seat, a district that leans Republican, but could potentially be moved to the Democratic column with the candidacy of former Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala.

In a sign, however, the campaign was sensitive to concerns Akshar didn’t have the career chops, Republicans released his resume detailing his law enforcement work alongside a press release. More >

Republicans Back Akshar For Senate

aksharRepublicans are backing Broome County Undersheriff Fred Akshar to replace former Sen. Tom Libous in the 52nd district special election, GOP officials on Monday announced.

“I’ve committed my life to making our community the best it could be,” said Akshar in a statement released by his campaign. “The families in our community deserve a strong, energetic voice. I plan to bring the same passion and dedication from my service in law enforcement to the State Senate.”

Akshar is entering a race that has drawn statewide notice after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s early endorsement of former Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala, who was a member of his cabinet during his first term.

In what seemed like a nod to Fiala’s early criticism of Akshar’s lack of government experience, the campaign released the candidate’s resume, showing his eight years as a law enforcement official and graduation from the FBI National Academy in Virginia. More >

DeFrancisco Knocks Wage Board ‘Lunacy’

defranFrom the Morning Memo:

Don’t expect newly minted Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco to be a shrinking violet in his new role.

In an interview on Capital Tonight on Friday, the Syracuse Republican came out swinging at the wage board convened by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, decrying the move to increase the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15 “lunacy” and a way to apply political pressure to opponents.

“To me, that is not democracy,” DeFrancisco said. “That position ought to be expressed and discussed in a reasonable way.”

The wage board’s recommendation must still be approved by Acting Labor Commissioner Mario Musolino, but there is little doubt that he would turn the proposal down after it was embraced by Cuomo at a rally following the announcement earlier this month. More >

Fiala Says She’ll Gauge Constituents On SAFE Act

fialaDemocratic state Senate hopeful Barbara Fiala plans to consult with voters on the controversial SAFE Act gun control law to determine what, if any, changes they would like to see in the measure.

“The SAFE Act — you’ve heard a lot about it, we’ve read a lot of about it,” Fiala told reporters on Thursday evening. “There’s talk that some of it needs to be tweaked. That’s why we’re going to have those conversations, talk to people, study people — find out what’s important to the constituency here, what problems they have it or not. And just take a look at it. People have expressed concerns and I’m going to talk to everybody, pros and cons.”

Previously this week, Fiala declined to take a position on the law, saying it needed to be “look at.” More >

Senate Republicans Plan Push To Keep Libous Seat

flanaganFrom the Morning Memo:

Senate Republicans plan to push hard to keep the 52nd Senate district in GOP hands — a district that favors them in enrollment, but could nevertheless alter the tenuous balance of power in the chamber.

“We’re going to win that seat,” Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said on a stop in Cooperstown this week. “Let me be clear on that.”

The special election to replace the once influential and powerful Libous is an early test for Flanagan, a Suffolk County lawmaekr who replaced scandal-scarred Dean Skelos in the chamber in May. Flanagan said he plans to be personally involved in the race.

“We will absolutely hit the ground running,” Flanagan said on Wednesday. “I expect to spend a lot of time in Binghamton. It’s a very important race. It’s critical not only to our conference, but to the people of the state of New York.” More >

Republicans To Roll Out SD-52 Candidate On Monday

sd52The Republican candidate in the special election replace former Sen. Tom Libous will be announced on Monday, Broome County GOP Chairman Bijoy Datta said Thursday afternoon in a statement.

The news comes as Democrat Barbara Fiala, a former Broome County, launches her bid today for the 52nd Senate district, which encompasses four counties in the Southern Tier.

In his statement, Datta took a swipe at Fiala’s early support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who endorsed less than 24 hours after Libous was found guilty of lying to the FBI and automatically removed from his seat. More >

DeFrancisco Appointed Deputy Majority Leader

DeFranFlanSyracuse Sen. John DeFrancisco has been named the deputy majority leader of the state Senate, the GOP conference on Thursday announced.

The appointment of DeFrancisco to the number two post in the Senate brings regional balance to the Republican leadership, but it also extends an olive branch to the faction of GOP lawmakers who supported the Syracuse lawmaker over Majority Leader John Flanagan of Suffolk County on Long Island.

“John DeFrancisco is a key part of our leadership team and a staunch advocate for the needs of every region of the state, including Upstate New York,” Flanagan said in a statement. “As a colleague and a friend, I am confident he will be a strong Deputy Majority Leader whose knowledge and experience will help move our pro-growth, pro-taxpayer agenda forward in the coming months and years. We have made real progress in moving this state in a new and better direction, but we have a lot of important work left to do. I am pleased to name Senator DeFrancisco to this position and look forward to continuing to work with him in this new capacity.”

More >

Young Attacks Fiala, Insists Republicans Are United

cathyyoungThe leader of the Senate Republican’s fundraising apparatus on Thursday criticized Democrat Barbara Fiala as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “hand-picked” candidate and knocked her record as Broome County executive, signaling the first volley in the race to replace Tom Libous in the chamber.

At the same time, Sen. Cathy Young of Olean insisted Republicans were united as a conference despite lingering concerns over Suffolk County Sen. John Flanagan ascending to the majority leader post over upstate lawmaker John DeFrancisco.

Young, interviewed on The Capitol Pressroom, said Libous seat will remain in the GOP column.

“It’s a Republican seat, we fully expect to maintain that Republican seat,” she said on the WCNY radio program. “We need to have that balance in the state.” More >

Despite Reformers’ Calls, A Special Ethics Session Seems Unlikely

libous1From the Morning Memo:

Add Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan to the list of state officials who do not think it is likely lawmakers will approve new ethics legislation in the wake of two convictions in the Legislature.

“I don’t think it’s tolerated right now,” Flanagan said while in Cooperstown on Wednesday. “You see people who are getting prosecuted, who are getting indicted, who are getting convicted. Frankly, it’s bad for everybody.”

Last week, both Republican Tom Libous and Democrat John Sampson were convicted in separate in corruption cases, forcing their ouster from the Senate.

Republicans are pushing to retain Libous’s seat in the Southern Tier, while Flanagan acknowledged that winning Sampson’s Brooklyn district would be a “very, very, very uphill climb.” More >

Flanagan Will Make An Upstate Lawmaker Deputy Leader

flanaganSenate Majority Leader John Flanagan would not reveal who will replace Tom Libous as the number two lawmaker in the conference, but said the selection will likely be an upstate lawmaker.

Flanagan appeared with Sen. Jim Seward at the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown on Wednesday, part of a tour of several upstate areas this summer for the Suffolk County lawmaker.

“Senator Seward and I continue to forge a fantastic working relationship,” Flanagan told reporters while flanked by Seward. “I haven’t dealt with any management changes. I certainly will.”

Libous, a Binghamton-area lawmaker, was ousted from his Senate seat earlier this month after he was convicted of lying to the FBI in a case stemming from his son receiving a job at a politically connected law firm in Westchester County. More >