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Sean Ryan forms campaign account as lead-up to expected State Senate run

ALBANY – Assemblyman Sean Ryan has created a campaign account with the state Board of Elections to accept donations and make expenditures for an increasingly likely bid for a State Senate seat that represents parts of Buffalo and several suburban communities.

The new committee – Sean Ryan for Senate – also will show receiving a $100,000 transfer from Ryan’s Assembly campaign account, according to a disclosure report his new Senate political committee must file with the state by Monday.

Ryan has not formally announced he will seek the Senate 60th District seat, but the Senate committee fundraising formation would all but seem to confirm his political intentions.

Senate Democrats, who are looking to grow their new majority even further in 2020, were already sounding like Ryan is a senator. “Sean Ryan has a great record as a state legislator who fights hard for Western New York, and he’d be an extremely effective and welcome member of the State Senate,’’ said Sen. Michael Gianaris, a Queens Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Democrats’ central campaign committee.

The district’s current senator, Chris Jacobs, a Buffalo Republican, recently announced that he intends to run for Congress in 2020.

“Part of the exploration process is testing the waters to see if I have the financial support to run a successful campaign," Ryan said Wednesday. He said he will start fundraising in earnest for the Senate campaign account he created sometime in the fall. Between now and then, he said, he’s already got more than three dozen meetings planned with political, business and government stakeholders in Western New York.

The Senate 60th includes a part of Buffalo, a small part of the City of Tonawanda, and the towns of Brant, Evans, Grand Island, Orchard Park and Tonawanda. It includes a part of the Seneca Nation’s Cattaraugus reservation.

State Sen. Chris Jacobs is vacating his Senate seat to run for Congress. (News file photo)

The district is heavily Democratic, though Democrats and Republicans have traded control of the seat over the past decade or more. According to election board records, the district has 88,000 Democrats, 51,000 Republicans and 37,000 people who don’t belong to any party.

Many politicians have accelerated their campaign plans after the state changed political party primary elections from September to June. State lawmakers will run on that new schedule for the first time in 2020.

Ryan noted that candidates for the State Legislature would often not announce their plans until the year elections are held, but with the new June primary calendar, candidates around the state are looking at earlier announcement plans. Ryan said he will make a final decision – or announcement – this fall.

Ryan became an assemblyman in 2011 after Sam Hoyt left the Assembly to join the Cuomo administration. In 2016, Democrats prodded Ryan to run for the Senate 60th district. In the hands of Republicans at the time, the Senate at the time was seen as a less influential place for Ryan to serve than remaining in the Democratic-dominated Assembly, and so he stayed put.

In January, the Senate flipped to Democratic control, and Democrats are looking to add more lawmakers to their conference in 2020. In 2022, a statewide redistricting process will be undertaken to re-draw legislative district lines. If Democrats still control the Senate then, it’s expected the Senate 60th district will be re-shaped to become a more sure thing for Democratic control of the seat.

Ryan, in his current Assembly district, already represents about 40% of the Senate 60th district.

State election board records show a new Ryan Senate campaign account as having $230,000 on hand. Ryan said there was a mistake in the disclosure filing. That campaign, he said, represents his existing Assembly campaign account. The new Senate account, by Monday, will show the $100,000 transfer from the current Assembly account.

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