A representative from Long Island was replaced as state Senate majority leader Monday by a representative from Long Island, and Cayuga County residents have two of their own, Sen. Michael Nozzolio and Sen. Jim Seward, to thank for allowing it to happen.
When Sen. Dean Skelos was arrested last week on federal corruption charges, Nozzolio and Seward said that there was no reason for Skelos to be replaced as majority leader of that house. When the rallying to oust Skelos became louder, Nozzolio and Seward joined 14 other senators in signing a letter that said "We strongly believe that Senator Dean Skelos should remain on as majority leader of the New York State Senate."
State Sen. John DeFrancisco, meanwhile, was testing the waters for support to be the one to replace Skelos when and if he stepped down, but when it finally became clear that Skelos was on his way out, the Senate decided, in a secret meeting, to back Sen. John Flanagan rather than DeFrancisco.
So why did Nozzolio and Seward support a Long Islander over a central New Yorker with so much in common with their own districts?
Nozzolio's written statement on the matter indicated he supported Flanagan because Flanagan had pledged to work to dismantle parts of the SAFE Act. Huh? DeFranciso voted against the gun-control legislation right alongside Nozzolio. Flanagan was among the downstate Republicans who voted in favor of it.
Seward said that he planned to vote for DeFrancisco until it became clear that Flanagan was going to win. Just like the way he stood up for Skelos right up until it became clear that he was going to resign.
The root of the problem is one typical of people elected to the Legislature — they quickly forget who they are supposed to be working for. Being on the winning side and holding onto power becomes more important than standing up for the people back home.
Monday's vote was an opportunity to change the balance of power in Albany for the benefit of upstate, central New York and Cayuga County. This display of protecting the party at all costs — and protecting their own rear ends in the process — was not the best week of constituent representation for Nozzolio and Seward. The people who sent them to Albany deserve better.