In preparation for the 2021 legislative session, Republican and Democratic members of the New York State Senate have chosen their respective leaders.
On December 15, 2020, the 20-member Senate Republican Conference unanimously elected Sen. Rob Ortt (R-North Tonawanda) to continue in the role of Senate Minority Leader. Sen. Ortt first assumed this leadership role in June 2020 following the resignation of the previous Senate Minority Leader, Sen. John Flanagan. A Western New York native, Leader Ortt was first elected to the State Senate in 2014 after serving in the War in Afghanistan and after a stint as Mayor of North Tonawanda. Leader Ortt has said that his priorities include economic recovery and assisting small businesses that have been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic; he has also expressed support for the removal of the emergency powers granted to Gov. Andrew Cuomo due to the pandemic. Leader Ortt has chosen Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) as Deputy Minority Leader; he replaces Sen. Joe Griffo (R-Rome).
The Senate Democratic Conference unanimously re-elected Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) as Senate Majority Leader on December 7, 2020. Leader Stewart-Cousins has served as a state senator since 2007, as Senate Democratic Leader since 2012, and as Senate Majority Leader since 2019. Leader Stewart-Cousins reappointed Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) as Deputy Majority Leader and Sen. Jose M. Serrano (D-Bronx) as Chair of the Majority Conference. Following her re-election as Majority Leader of her 43-member conference, Leader Stewart-Cousins commented: “‘During our first session as the Democratic Majority, we enacted historic legislation to protect and expand New Yorkers’ rights and build a stronger and fairer state for all residents. The voters clearly supported our efforts and agenda as they elected the largest majority in Senate history and the first modern Democratic supermajority. We will use this mandate to help lead New York State forward…’”
A recent article in Politico lauded Leader Stewart-Cousins for the cohesiveness and stability she has brought to the infamously fractious, corrupt and dysfunctional Senate Democratic Conference (Senate Democrats’ previous two leaders, Malcolm Smith and John Sampson, have each served time in prison). It is unfortunate, however, that Leader Stewart-Cousins’s definition of “‘historic legislation to protect and expand New Yorkers’ rights’” includes legalizing paid surrogacy, letting men in women’s restrooms, passing reckless criminal justice measures, and expanding late-term abortion access. We pray that one day, Leader Stewart-Cousins will use her leadership skills for good instead of evil in the State of New York.