ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Two more Republican members of the New York Senate say they won’t run for re-election in another sign of the political headwinds facing the GOP this fall.
The decisions by Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco of Syracuse and Sen. John Bonacic of Orange County come after a third Republican, Sen. Kathy Marchione of Halfmoon, announced Thursday she would not seek another term.
The retirements are a major setback for the GOP, which has controlled the Senate for most of the last 80 years. Democrats already control the Assembly and hold the offices of governor, comptroller and attorney general, leaving the Senate as the GOP’s last bastion in Albany.
Democrats won two special elections Tuesday to secure a one-seat numeric majority in the Senate. Republicans will hold onto control, however, thanks to the support of a rogue Democrat, Sen. Simcha Felder, of Brooklyn, who is allied with the GOP.
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But Democrats say voter dissatisfaction with Washington Republicans and President Donald Trump could help them win more seats in November and wrest control from the GOP.
“Clearly the Republicans see the writing on the wall,” Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy said of the GOP retirements. “I am sure there are more to come.”
Sen. John Flanagan, the Long Island Republican who leads the Senate, predicted the GOP would field “excellent candidates” to replace the three lawmakers and hold on to the Senate’s reins.
“We will succeed in November and maintain our majority so the true priorities of New Yorkers continue to be put first,” he said.
The three retiring senators are expected to serve out their terms, which expire at the end of the year. The current legislative session is scheduled to end in June.
DeFrancisco’s retirement was first reported by The Auburn Citizen. The lawmaker, first elected to the Senate in 1992, announced earlier this week that he was suspending his campaign for governor after Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro emerged as the front runner for the GOP nomination.
The 71-year-old DeFrancisco, a leading conservative voice in the Senate, told the paper that New York needs “fundamental change” that can’t be accomplished by a single lawmaker.
“That’s why I’m not running. I want to make a fundamental change and if I can’t then I’ve served my time,” he said. “I’ve run 17 times for office, 13 for the Senate. I’ve served as well as I can possibly serve.”
Bonacic was elected in 1998 and currently leads two powerful committees, judiciary and racing, gaming and wagering. He said he wants to spend more time with family.
Marchione also cited family reasons for her decision to retire at the end of the year. She was first elected in 2012.