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Flanagan chooses fomer rival to be deputy Senate majority leader

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) at

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) at the Capitol in Albany on June 25, 2015. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY - Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has chosen his one-time rival for Republican leader as his deputy.

Flanagan (R-East Northport) announced Thursday that he's selected Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) to serve as deputy leader. In May, Flanagan edged DeFrancisco, 18-15, in an internal GOP struggle to replace Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) as majority leader.

The move maintains the GOP's tradition for regional balance between the top two Senate posts. It also could mildly salve DeFrancisco supporters who wanted an upstate leader.

"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," Flanagan said.

It is a promotion for DeFrancisco, who as the GOP's Senate Finance Committee chairman was known for grilling officials and advocates on state budget issues.

Skelos was forced to step down as leader after he was arrested on federal corruption charges, though he has retained his Senate seat.

Last week, the deputy leader position became vacant when former Sen. Tom Libous (R-Binghamton) was convicted of lying to the FBI regarding a scheme involving getting his son a job at a law firm. Libous was automatically ejected from the Senate upon his conviction.

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