Republicans will “absolutely” retain the State Senate seat that Dean Skelos forfeited automatically upon his conviction for corruption, his Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said Thursday.
Speaking to reporters after a breakfast held by the Association for a Better New York civic group in Manhattan, Flanagan (R-East Northport) said “people will embrace the Republican candidate.”
“I believe in what we do, how we do it,” Flanagan said of the GOP’s chances in Skelos’ former district in Nassau County.
Skelos, of Rockville Centre, was convicted Dec. 11 on federal bribery, extortion and conspiracy charges and awaits sentencing. Skelos was majority leader before Flanagan.
Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs said he expects the party’s presumptive nominee, Assemb. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), to especially resonate with voters, given his background as a former federal prosecutor.
“We have exactly the right person at the right time to be running in the right district,” Jacobs said.
Winning the seat could be vital for the party to eventually flip control of the chamber. The Senate now has 31 Republicans and 31 Democrats, though Republicans are still in charge because State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) sits with the GOP.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to call a special election to fill Skelos’ seat on April 19. A special election to fill the seat vacated by former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was convicted in a separate federal corruption trial, also will take place that day.
Possible candidates for Skelos’ seat include Kaminsky and Assemb. Brian Curran (R-Lynbrook).
Flanagan said Thursday that the Republicans’ choice of a candidate is “not finalized, but that’ll be done post haste.”