State Sen. John Flanagan, R-Northport, has decided that he will not seek the Republican nomination for Suffolk County executive, further narrowing the field of GOP candidates before the Suffolk County Republican Committee meets next month to decide whom they will run this fall.
Flanagan is currently part of a slim 32-30 Republican majority in Albany, where he serves as chair of the Senate Education Committee. He has served as a state senator since 2002, and has handily won every election since then, his closest coming in 2006 by a 59-41 margin.
He had been considered by many to be one of the leading candidates for the GOP county executive nomination.
Flanagan released the following statement on Saturday night: "While I am truly honored to be a part of the discussion for the position, this is the time for me to focus on my efforts in the New York State Senate and that is why I have made the decision to remove my name from consideration for Suffolk County executive. I am truly honored to represent the residents of the second Senate District and I look forward to working with Majority Leader Dean Skelos and the rest of my colleagues in the Senate to reduce the tax burden our residents face, stimulate economic development to create real jobs and to restore our state. The time is now to make the changes that all New Yorkers need and I am proud to have the opportunity to play a role in those efforts.”
The Republican nomination opened up after current County Executive Steve Levy, in the midst of an investigation by District Attorney Thomas Spota into his campaign fundraising, .
According to Suffolk County Republican Committee Chairman John Jay LaValle, Flanagan's announcement wasn't entirely surprising.
"It's something he's been wrestling with since day one," LaValle said. "He and I have had ongoing discussions over the last several weeks. This would have been a career changer. But at the end of the day, knowing we have a strong group running for county executive, I agree it's wiser to protect the majority in the state senate."
Flanagan's announcement comes less than two weeks after Comptroller Joseph Sawicki and Legislator Ed Romaine, R-Center Moriches, both announced they would not seek the seat. Romaine was the last Republican to run for county exec, when he lost by a 55-45 margin to Levy in 2003.
Remaining GOP candidates who have expressed interest in the seat include and. Conservative Michael O'Donohoe, currently the Suffolk County commissioner of jurors and a former county legislator,.
Babylon Supervisor and the presumptive Democratic choice for the county exec nomination, Steve Bellone, .
According to the Suffolk County Republican Committee website's calendar, the nominating convention to decide the party's choice for county executive will be held on May 25.