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Flanagan, NY Senate's top Republican, leaving early for Northwell

New York State Sen. John Flanagan at Farmingdale

New York State Sen. John Flanagan at Farmingdale State College in Farmingdale in 2016. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

State Sen. John Flanagan, who previously announced he wasn’t running for reelection, said Tuesday he’d resign June 28 to take a private-sector job.

He will join Northwell Health, the company said in a statement  issued a few hours after Flanagan announced his resignation. 

Republicans are trying to hold an online conference Friday to possibly choose a new leader.

The early front-runners mentioned are all from Western New York: Sens. Patrick Gallivan (R-Elma) and Robert Ortt (R-North Tonawanda). Each immediately issued statements saying he would seek the post.

Another potential candidate, Sen. Fred Akshar (R-Binghamton), announced he would support Gallivan. Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) said he's behind Ortt.

 The selection of an upstate official would mean that, for the first time since 2008, the top Senate Republican won’t be from Long Island.

Flanagan (R-East Northport), 59, had been the most powerful Republican in New York from 2015-18 when he served as Senate majority leader.

But he fell into minority status when the Democratic election wave swept Republicans out of Senate power in 2018 after they had controlled the chamber for most of a half-century. With Democrats now holding 40 of the 63 Senate seats, nine Republicans have decided not to run for reelection.

Flanagan has been a state legislator for 34 years. He was first elected to the Assembly in 1986, to a seat vacated by the death of his father. He was elected to the Senate in 2002 and became majority leader in 2015, succeeding Dean Skelos of Rockville Centre, who was ousted after being indicted on corruption charges. Skelos later was convicted.

In a statement, Flanagan said it was an “honor and privilege” to serve in the Legislature for more than three decades. He reflected on the brief session lawmakers held last week in Albany to vote on bills — which turned out to be his last time in the building.

“As I roamed the halls of the Capitol last week for the very last time, I marveled at the architecture of the building and reveled in its beauty and splendor, while contemplating the remarkable history of our great state,” Flanagan said. “I was humbled knowing that I was walking in the footsteps of many great legislators from generations past, including my father, the late Assemblyman John Flanagan. I am forever grateful to my legislative colleagues, past and present, who helped guide my path and nurture my legislative career.”

 Northwell Health, one of the state's largest hospital systems, said Flanagan would serve as regional "liaison with legislative officials and government regulatory agencies at the federal and local level."  

Mark Solazzo, Northwell's executive vice president and chief operating officer, said: “John’s knowledge and political acumen will be critical to advancing the Eastern Region, especially as Northwell continues to formalize its regional operational model to achieve greater efficiency in delivering clinical services.” 

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