A 25-year-old John Flanagan was jogging with his parents in Greenlawn in 1986 when his father, a seven-term state assemblyman, suffered a heart attack. John J. Flanagan, who was 50, died at the hospital less than an hour later.
Flanagan, now in his seventh term as a state senator, recalled his dad Monday in a speech on the State Senate floor shortly after he was elected majority leader.
"Some of you have no idea who my father was," said Flanagan, 54, an East Northport Republican. "If I can be half the man my father was, I can say I did a darn good job."
Flanagan beat Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) for the Senate's top job, after Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), resigned the post Monday. Federal prosecutors have charged Skelos and his son, Adam, with extortion, soliciting bribes and conspiracy. Dean and Adam Skelos say they are innocent.
Republicans and Democrats who have worked with Flanagan said Monday that they expect him to watch out for Long Island's interests.
"It's always been a debate between city interests, and Long Island and suburban interests," said Suffolk County Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer. The "Senate leadership has always been able to counterbalance the Assembly, which has always been more city-centric."
Flanagan also has been "one of the point people" for Suffolk County's agenda, Schaffer said.
"He has always been responsive and recognized as one of the leaders."Suffolk Republican chairman John Jay LaValle described Flanagan as a conservative who will bring a practical approach to the leadership job.
"The goal is not to be as conservative as possible. It's to be a leader, a negotiator," LaValle said. "He's someone women, Hispanics can identify with."
Flanagan was raised in Huntington and attended Harborfields High School in Greenlawn. He earned a bachelor's in economics from the College of William and Mary in 1983, and a law degree from Touro Law School in 1990.
Flanagan was elected to his father's Assembly seat in 1986, and in 2002 made an unsuccessful bid for minority leader. Flanagan lost by a vote of 27-26 when then-Assemb. Thomas F. Barraga (R-West Islip), now a Suffolk County legislator, went for the upstate candidate.
Flanagan won the 2nd Senate District seat later that year. The district includes Smithtown and portions of Brookhaven and Huntington towns.
Flanagan also was of counsel with the law firm Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo & Terrana LLP of Uniondale. He announced Monday he is no longer with the firm.
Flanagan's wife, Lisa Perez Flanagan, is a consultant with the Northport school district, according to financial disclosure reports. They have three children.
Jim Morgo, Suffolk's chief deputy county executive from 2007 to 2009, described Flanagan as "both personable and competent. . . . And, in something unusual for a state senator, he's self effacing."Carl Paladino, a Buffalo developer and a former Republican gubernatorial candidate, said in an interview he had been hoping for a Senate leader from upstate. Paladino criticized Flanagan for voting for the SAFE Act, which created a statewide registry for assault weapons and pistols, and passed in 2013.
Conservative Party chairman Mike Long said all downstate senators made a "bad vote" for the SAFE Act. But Long said Flanagan is "clearly a conservative Republican. His voting record speaks to that."
With Yancey Roy