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Exclusive: Cuomo Pressuring Republicans to Replace Skelos With His Preferred Candidate

As pressure mounts for New York State Senate Leader Dean Skelos (R) to step down in the wake of his arrest on corruption charges, a battle is quietly brewing to replace him, between upstate conservative and Long Island liberal Republicans.

Finance Committee Chairman, John DeFrancisco, has already thrown his hat in the ring, saying he would vie for the role of Majority Leader “if and when there is a vacancy.” DeFrancisco, a Syracuse Republican, is considered a strong social and fiscal conservative.

The Senate GOP however, is said to be quietly pushing for Long Island Republican John Flanagan, perhaps even at the behest of Governor Cuomo himself, to replace the scandal-plagued Skelos.

Flanagan, who the New York Post’s Fred Dicker describes as “a leader of the socially liberal and often-pro-big-spending Long Island delegation,” is the preferred choice of Skelos himself, and much like the current Leader, hails as a pro-SAFE Act, pro-Common Core candidate.

Flanagan voted in favor of the Second Amendment infringing SAFE Act, passed in the dead of night in an illegal use of the “message of necessity.” As such, he has received a grade of ‘F’ from the civil rights organization for gun owners known as SCOPE.

Flanagan is also a staunch supporter of the disastrous Common Core learning initiatives. During an education forum, he said that education leaders he’s come in contact with “have been, fundamentally, very strongly supportive of the Common Core.”

Flanagan added, “And I think that’s a good thing.”

With two key Cuomo policy initiatives on his resume, Flanagan has the support of the Governor himself according to Senate insiders.

A high ranking GOP source exclusively told the Mental Recession, “Cuomo is pushing behind the scenes for Flanagan.”

“He needs to continue the same relationship he had with Skelos,” the source added. “He’s been able to easily push through his agenda, why would he want it to change?”

Cooperation between downstate Republicans and the Governor has been prevalent in the past, as noted with the SAFE Act legislation. Additionally, this past election, reports surfaced that Skelos and other Long Island Republicans cut a deal with Cuomo, providing their support for the governor’s re-election bid in exchange for him staying out of races on Long Island.

Meanwhile, another top GOP operative has told the Mental Recession that Republican support for Flanagan could prove disastrous.

“Senate Republicans risk a complete mutiny from the anti-Common Core movement and the pro-Second Amendment advocates if they go with Flanagan,” a source familiar with the situation explained.

“They can all but kiss their majority good bye in 2016 and this time it could be for good.”

For his part, Flanagan has remained supportive of Skelos, indicating the embattled leader should remain in his post. And Skelos thus far is claiming he will stay in his influential seat, much as recently ousted Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) did immediately following his arrest.

Time may change that, however.

While some New York Republicans struggle with the courage of their convictions, a growing number will continue to demand he step away as Majority Leader, or perhaps even resign.  The New York Times has already stated their position, saying “Skelos Must Go.”

Should that happen, will Long Island liberal Republicans and Governor Cuomo ensure their pro-SAFE Act, pro-Common Core agenda continues by pushing Flanagan into the leadership role?

Rusty Weiss

Rusty Weiss is a freelance journalist focusing on the conservative movement and its political agenda. He has been writing conservatively charged articles for several years in the upstate New York area, and his writings have appeared in the Daily Caller, American Thinker,, Big Government, the Times Union, and the Troy Record. He is also Editor of one of the top conservative blogs of 2012, the Mental Recession.

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