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Will Barclay takes over as leader of NY Assembly Republicans

The New York State Assembly chamber in June.

The New York State Assembly chamber in June. Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

Republican Assemb. Will Barclay was elected Tuesday to become the new Assembly minority leader after a drunken-driving charge triggered the resignation of his predecessor.

Republicans selected Barclay (R-Pulaski) in a closed-door meeting four days after Assemb. Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) quit the leadership post. Barclay was elected unanimously after two other contenders bowed out. He is in his 18th year representing a district that runs along Lake Ontario north of Syracuse. He has been serving as the ranking Republican on the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, which handles budget legislation among other things.

Barclay is the son of H. Douglas Barclay, a former state senator and U.S. ambassador to El Salvador from 2003 to 2006.

The new Republican leader said his top priorities would be dealing with the state deficit and advocating for repeal or amendment of a law eliminating bail for most misdemeanors.

“The 2020 legislative session will be challenging, but we are firmly committed to putting our state back on the right track and promoting measures that are fair and protect constituents in every community,” Barclay said.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state Assembly, 106-42, with two vacancies.

Kolb was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated after crashing his sport utility vehicle in a ditch near his home on New Year's Eve, authorities said. He resigned his leadership post Friday, he said, in the best interests of his fellow Republicans. He remains an elected member of the Assembly where he has served since 2000.

Kolb had been Assembly minority leader since 2009. He launched a campaign for governor in 2018 but shuttered it long before the GOP convention.

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