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Senate Republicans re-elect LI Sen. John Flanagan as leader

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, R-Smithtown, walks up

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, R-Smithtown, walks up the Great Western Staircase after leaving a budget meeting at Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office at the state Capitol on Tuesday, March 29, 2016, in Albany. Photo Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY

State Senate Republicans re-elected Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) to lead their conference Monday — although it’s still unclear if the GOP will have an outright majority in the chamber in 2017.

Flanagan oversaw the Senate Republicans’ campaigns, in which they picked up a seat in Buffalo but may see that neutralized by a Nassau County race that is still too close to call. As of this moment, Republicans and Democrats each hold 31 seats with one seat still undecided. However, Republicans are looking to maintain control — if not with an outright majority, then by continuing a governing alliance with a handful of breakaway Democrats.

Flanagan, who became leader earlier this year after then-Sen. Dean Skelos was indicted (and subsequently convicted) on corruption charges, was re-elected by the GOP in a closed-door vote.

“I am humbled and gratified that my colleagues in the Senate Republican conference have unanimously re-elected me as their leader,” Flanagan said in a statement. “After a campaign in which we faced extraordinary challenges and yet still managed to grow our majority in a presidential year, I couldn’t be more proud to lead this outstanding group of lawmakers.”

In the race that will decide what party holds the outright majority, Democrat John Brooks leads Sen. Michael Venditto (R-Oyster Bay) by 33 votes with some 8,000 absentee ballots to be counted.

Even if Venditto loses, Republicans can maintain Senate control if they continue their alliances with the seven-member Independent Democratic Conference and Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), who, while not an IDC member, has sat with Republicans for the last two years.

Felder joined the Republican meeting Monday but said he didn’t cast a vote for leader. He was blunt about weighing his options to gain political leverage for his district.

“Nothing is being decided today,” Felder said, after emerging from the meeting. “I’m looking to leverage the most I can for my constituents. I’m being as direct and honest as I can be. There is no deeper meaning.”

Felder added that he was “never a loyal Democrat” when he served on the New York City Council.

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