Republican Sen. John Flanagan has unusual freedom. He hasn't faced meaningful opposition for his seat for the past two elections. Democratic nominee Joseph Lombardi, 34, of Centereach, is not actively campaigning. And in 16 years in the Assembly and 12 in the Senate, Flanagan has never received less than 60 percent of the vote.
That gives him the ability to tell the unvarnished truth, even when it's unpopular, and he's spent much of the past few years doing so, particularly on education.
Flanagan, 53, of East Northport, chairs the Senate Education Committee, and has been a strong voice for reform. Lately, the reform he's stood up for is Common Core, which he concedes was horribly implemented. However, he says it is gaining traction and will improve education in the long run. He's gotten heat from teachers and parents frustrated with the changes, but Flanagan has been poking the bear that is education policy for years.
He's consistently supported changes to make it easier to fire teachers who misbehave. He's fought tenure policies that demand layoffs be done by seniority. He's been willing to take on politically dangerous topics like the huge expense of special education and state laws that guarantee salary increases for public employees.
And he's been one of the most powerful voices fighting to make sure Long Island schools get the funds they need. Flanagan does a good job. We just wish the environment in Albany allowed him to be more successful.
Newsday endorses Flanagan.