Ortt is new minority leader in State Senate

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 June 2020 at 3:06 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: State Sen. Rob Ortt speaks during the Orleans County Republican picnic at the Albion Elks last Aug. 18. He was elected leader of the Republicans in the State Senate today.

State Sen. Rob Ortt, who has represented Orleans County in Albion the past 5 ½ years, was elected leader of the Republican conference today.

He will succeed John Flanagan, who is resigning to take a job in the private sector.

Ortt of North Tonawanda said he is focused on growing the Republican conference and seeing the GOP regain the majority. The Senate was a long-time Republican stronghold until the Democrats won the majority in the November 2018 election.

Ortt was elected leader over Patrick Gallivan of Elma and Andrew Lanza of Staten Island.

“I am immeasurably honored and grateful that my colleagues have chosen me to lead our Senate Republican Conference, including my good friends and respected senators Pat Gallivan and Andrew Lanza,” Ortt said in a  statement. “I’m eager to unite our remarkable conference and work with Republicans from across our great state to fight for our party and our values. Hard-working taxpayers, small businesses, and families from all walks of life and every region will have a fierce ally in the Senate Republican Conference.”

In a conference call with reporters this afternoon, Ortt said he respects all members of the Senate, and wants to work with them all and move then state forward. That includes the Democrats.

He will lead a conference that will speak up for the need to make the state more affordable for residents and businesses.

His election as minority leader is the second biggest honor of his life, next to leading soldiers in battle, Ortt said.

He enlisted in NY Army National Guard in October 2001 and did a tour in Afghanistan from March 2008 until December 2008.

Ortt said the Republican conference needs to boost voter enrollment and fundraising to defends its current seats and to grow the conference.

“We represent millions of New Yorkers who are looking for someone to stand up for them,” Ortt said.

The Democrats have 40 of the 63 seats in the Senate. Ortt said, “the difference in the two conferences has never been more stark.”

Ortt wants a more diverse Republican conference, with more women and minorities, including in the leadership positions.

“I’m going to be traveling the state bringing that message on behalf of our current members and our challengers,” Ortt said. “This is a team effort. We’re going to need to be our competitive best if we’re going to survive.”

Marc Molinaro, the Duchess County Executive and the Republican candidate for governor in 2018, issued a statement, praising Ortt’s election as minority leader.

“The Senate Republicans have chosen wisely,” Molinaro said. “Senator Rob Ortt will make a fantastic leader as New York looks to rebuild in the wake of a global pandemic. A state government under one-party rule needs leaders like Senator Ortt who will never back down from a fight, be a voice for upstate and forgotten New Yorkers, who will preserve the rights of all citizens and work every day to make this once great state livable again.”

“We need to a light a crush fire in the hearts and minds of New Yorkers and Senate Republicans now have a chance to be that spark with Rob Ortt leading them into battle. Congratulations Leader Ortt, well deserved.”

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