Republican Sen. Robert Ortt was elected the next minority leader of the state Senate as his main competition, Sen. Pat Gallivan, dropped his bid on Friday morning.
"We must take back the legislative authority ceded by the current majority to ensure that all New Yorkers have a voice in their government. We start by taking back the Senate majority. We start by respecting all New Yorkers and every region of the state. We start by respecting employees and employers alike," Gallivan said in a statement.
"We can only do this by working together as a unified conference."
Ortt in a subsequent statement said he had enough votes to win the post, replacing Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan, a Long Island Republican who is resigned next week to work for a health care firm.
Another rival for the job, Sen. Andrew Lanza, dropped his bid on Thursday evening and endorsed Ortt.
“I am immeasurably honored and grateful that my colleagues have chosen me to lead our Senate Republican Conference, including my good friends and respected senators Pat Gallivan and Andrew Lanza," Ortt said. "I’m eager to unite our remarkable conference and work with Republicans from across our great state to fight for our party and our values. Hard-working taxpayers, small businesses, and families from all walks of life and every region will have a fierce ally in the Senate Republican Conference.”'
Ortt is inheriting a conference that fell into the minority for the first time in a deade two years ago. The conference faces potentially stiff political headwinds going into a presidential election year, which typically draws out more Democratic voters.
Ortt is the first western New York to hold a top leadership post in the state Senate since Earl Brydges nearly 50 years ago, reflecting the shift in power in the party to that region of the state.
But at the same time, Republicans will have to make in-roads in the New York City suburbs, especially Long Island, whose districts are considered key for controlling the Senate.
The 2020 election year is also a literal rebuilding season for Republicans amid a wave of Republican retirements in the 63-member state Senate.
Democrats now hold all levers of power statewide in New York.
"His ascension to leading the Senate Republicans has come quickly, and comes at an important time for the future of New York," said Republican Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay. "As the state begins to recover from the crushing impacts of COVID-19, we also must reinforce our efforts to defeat a dangerous liberal agenda that costs too much, achieves too little and continues to drive away thousands of families and businesses every year."