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Ortt Elected New York State Senate Minority Leader

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Courtesy of New York State Senate
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State Sen. Robert Ortt

The New York State Senate has a new minority leader. Western New York Senator Robert Ortt replaces John Flanagan, who is stepping down after 34 years in the legislature.

Flanagan is leaving at the end of the month to be a lobbyist for Northwell Health, after announcing earlier in the year that he is not seeking reelection.

Flanagan previously held the post of majority leader, but in 2018 Democrats took over the Senate after a century of nearly exclusive GOP rule.  

Ortt, who won a  leadership vote taken by the state’s GOP senators, is an Afghanistan war veteran, and was the mayor of North Tonawanda before being elected to the Senate in 2014. He says he knows he takes the leadership post at a difficult time, the COVID-19 pandemic, waning enrollment in the Republican Party, and a fundraising disadvantage. Nine of 23 Republican senators are not running again in November.

“I’m very cognizant of the challenges,” said Ortt.

Ortt says while he is a supporter of President Trump and his policies, he knows the president is not held in high esteem in every part of the state, and he hopes to gain Republican seats in the Senate.

“I realize that in some districts, the president’s style, the president himself is not as popular,” Ortt said.

He says he wants to bring more women into the Senate, and to include more diversity in his staff and in leadership positions.

He says his goal is to retake the Senate Majority for Republicans, though he says he knows it won’t likely happen this year.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.
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