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Skelos resigns leadership post; DeFrancisco loses bid to replace him

Matt Ryan
file photo

Dean Skelos has resigned his position as New York State Senate majority leader after his arrest on federal corruption charges. He becomes the latest leader to lose his power in a state government marred by corruption.

Sen. John Flanagan of Long Island was elected by his fellow Republicans, beating out Syracuse-area Sen. John DeFrancisco.

This comes a week after Skelos was charged with six federal counts of corruption. Republicans huddled behind closed doors at the Capitol today to try to resolve the leadership crisis. Last week, GOP senators voted to keep Skelos in his position after the federal charges were announced, but that support eroded in recent days.

DeFrancisco ran to replace Skelos, but lost out to his friend John Flanagan, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Before going in to the closed-door conference meeting with his fellow Republicans, DeFrancisco told reporters that he believed he had the votes to become the next leader. But, he admitted anything can happen during one of these meetings.

“Things change in a conference. And things change in a conference because there’s an interaction, different things come up. Different people have questions about everyone and sometimes minds change,” said DeFrancisco.

Skelos is not resigning from his Senate seat while he fights charges that he extorted payments for his son, Adam, from two businesses. Both men say they are innocent.

Republicans hold a slim majority in the Senate, so losing just one member could leave the Republicans out of power.