Bipartisan days are gone — for now
I am a Democrat, so it might seem strange for me to be concerned about the future of the Republican Party in Albany … but such is the case. Though the Republican Party is dominant here and in many upstate areas — as a statewide political force, it is in decline.
Today, the Republican Party has no state-wide elected leaders, and is falling into a permanent minority status in the state legislature. Competition in politics is a good thing and right now the Republican Party in New York is not providing it.
During the years I was in Albany, the Republicans controlled the State Senate and were a check on the policies of the Democratic Party in the Assembly. Yet, the situation also created an opportunity for Chautauqua County. Most of the legislation I passed in the Assembly was co-sponsored in the Senate by my good friend, Republican Jess Present. As a result, we got a lot done in Albany for the people of the area. Our both being in the majority meant that we could deliver for our constituents.
Republicans in the State Assembly have been in the minority since 1975. They recently experienced a “bump in the road” when their Minority Leader was picked up driving drunk in a state car which he is eligible to have as a legislative leader. The optics weren’t good. He quickly announced his resignation as Republican Leader.
Now, it has been announced that an Assemblyman from the Oswego area will lead the Republicans in the Assembly. I thought that it might have been an opportunity for our Assemblyman, Andy Goodell, but he indicated that he would not seek the position preferring to retain his role as floor leader. Yet, the reality is that the Republicans only have 43 of the 150 seats in the Assembly and so their power in Albany is minimal.
Until last year, the Republicans in the state Senate were in a much better position-they were in the majority and had great influence in the budget and legislative process. However, they lost the Majority in the last election and now have only about one-third of the seats in the Senate. Many incumbent Republican senators have since announced their retirements or are seeking other offices (like running for Congress.) Therefore, chances of Republicans regaining control of the State Senate seem nil at this point.
Another “nail in the coffin” for Senate Republicans is that after the 2020 census, there will be a redrawing of legislative district lines. Assuming that they are not in the Majority, they will probably lose even more seats in that legislative body. By being in the Majority, they were able to draw Senate districts which favored Republicans being elected. This time around in the “gerrymandering” process, they won’t likely be in that position.
Perhaps a “white knight” will come charging to the fore and win the governorship for the Republicans. Aside from that possibility, I see little happening in Albany to change the current state of affairs. It would better for all of us if the Republican Party could find a way to resurrect itself and again become a competitive force in New York politics.
Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.