ALBANY - (From Newsday's Sunday edition; posted 11 p.m.)
Sen. John Flanagan has begun to solidify support to succeed Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican source said Saturday.
aThe counting is ongoing but the Flanagan people are very confident they have more than the required number to take the leadership post,a the source said.
Flanagan (R-East Northport) and Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) have been quietly battling to rally votes among the 33-member Republican Senate conference after Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) was arrested Monday on federal corruption charges. DeFrancisco supporters had said Friday the Syracuse Republican was positioned to be the next Senate leader, but others said atide shifteda later that day.
Skelos hasnat yet agreed to step down from his leadership post but could do so officially Monday when legislators return to the State Capitol for their weekly session. Although Republican senators initially said they supported Skelos, that confidence has rapidly eroded. Seven upstate GOP senators have called for him to step aside and one, Sen. Robert Ortt (R-Lockport) has said he would introduce a motion to call for a vote on Skelos, majority leader since 2011, if he doesnat step down.
On Wednesday, Democrats unsuccessfully tried to force a no-confidence vote. Though it failed, it succeeded it ramping up pressure on rank-and-file Republicans, who, in increasing numbers, began to abandon Skelos.
Federal prosecutors charged Skelos, 67, and his son, Adam, 32, with extortion, soliciting bribes and conspiracy. They alleged that Skelos used the power of his office to force an environmental company, Arizona-based AbTech, and a major real-estate developer, Glenwood Management of New Hyde Park a who also is a big GOP campaign contributor a to hire Adam as a consultant and send title insurance work his way. All told, the senator compelled the companies to pay Adam $200,000 since 2011, investigators alleged. They said Skelos, in return, helped AbTech win a $12 million contract with Nassau County for stormwater treatment and represented real-estate interests in major legislation.
Skelos has said he and his son are innocent and that the criminal complaint lodged against him is anothing more than a press release.a