Republican Senators return to NYS minority in 2020, eyeing election day and policy pushback


UTICA, NY (WUTR-TV) — After losing the stronghold of the New York State Senate floor in the 2019 legislative session, local Republicans discuss shortcomings of the year, and how they plan to address the start of a new decade–once again–in the minority.

“I wouldn’t say there was a lot of success in 2019,” Senator James Seward (R, Oneonta) said.

“We’re going to be very aggressive and very competitive this year,” Senate Deputy Minority Leader Joe Griffo, of Rome, said.

Among policies passed, and championed by Democrats in 2019: early voting, drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants and criminal justice reform; including the elimination of cash bail for ‘non-violent felony offenses’–a move staunchly opposed by many municipal law enforcement agencies.

What’s the sentiment among the GOP, seemingly in the back of the room?

“To say that the voices are mute is really irresponsible and a misrepresentation. Where we play a pivotal role, and a meaningful role, is that we can present the alternative,” Griffo said.

In an interview with Eyewitness News, Griffo repeated the oft-pointed-to sentimental disdain from upstate Republicans, that “one-party Democrat New York City-centric rule” blocks GOP efforts to implement policy.

“We are going to have to make sure that we have a good message, and that message will resonate,” Griffo said.

At the dawn of a new year and a new session, Republicans will return to Albany in the minority.

Knowing what they know from the previous year, how might the GOP change course on policy lobbying? Seward says the previous strategy will go on.

We will “continue to reach out across the aisle to try to get some moderation in some of the proposals that come before the Senate. But, ultimately–ultimately–the answer is at the ballot box,” Seward said.

While lining up a host of winnable Republicans next November may give the GOP an opportunity to regain control in the Senate, it remains unclear how effective they will be during the legislative session prior.

The second and final part of this pre-2020 session conversation with Griffo and Seward, will continue Dec. 17.

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