ALBANY – The Republican co-leader of the State Senate insisted this morning that the abrupt announcement that Sen. George Maziarz will not be seeking re-election will have “no impact’’ on the ability by Republicans to keep their partial control status of the chamber.
Sen. Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican, said the departure of Maziarz, the most powerful Republican in the Western New York delegation, does not alter the GOP mantra that total Democratic control of the Senate – something called for by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo – would be bad for the state.
“The last thing hard-working taxpayers want is an all-Democrat, all-New York City run state government free to push their liberal tax-and-spend agenda on the people of New York,’’ Skelos said in a statement.
Skelos said he learned of Maziarz’s decision “recently,” though he did not define how recently. On Sunday, a senior aide to Skelos said there had been no word about Maziarz not running again. Maziarz said his decision is based on being tired of the travel back and forth to Albany after many years in office and that it had nothing to do with a reported investigation by a downstate U.S. Attorney into how some of Maziarz’s campaign funds may have been used.
Skelos, who would not count Maziarz among his close political allies in Albany, characterized Maziarz’s decision as “very personal.’’ He said that after two decades in the Legislature, Maziarz “simply came to the conclusion that now was the right time to step away and give someone else a chance to lead. I understand and respect his choice.”
Despite the confidence by Skelos, the Republicans now face the prospect of trying to hold onto four open seats in districts from Long Island to Niagara County. Meanwhile, the power-sharing deal between Republicans and the five-member Independent Democratic Conference is, according to IDC Leader Jeff Klein, off after the November elections; Klein has pledged to break ties with the GOP and form an alliance with the main Democratic Senate conference.
Skelos has declined an interview request.