Bruno’s decision will end a more than three-decade career that led him to become one of the most powerful men in state government, and the defacto leader of the state Republican Party.
Insiders say Assemblyman Roy McDonald, R-Wilton, is Bruno’s preferred replacement for his Senate seat, although Rensselaer County Executive Kathleen Jimino is said to be interested, too.
It also means a seat that had been considered a safe one for Republicans will not necessarily be a sure thing this fall. With all New York lawmakers’ two-year terms ending in December, Republicans are defending their narrow 32-30 majority in the Senate, the party’s last stronghold in state government. Democrats now hold the governor’s post and dominate the Assembly by a 106-42 margin.
Should Bruno, 79, be followed by other older senators into retirement, the GOP would lose the power of incumbency in even more districts, further threatening the party’s control of the chamber.
While the state Assembly approved gay marriage last year, Bruno has prevented the issue from coming to a vote in the Senate. Bruno remains under a federal probe for acting as a paid consultant to an investment firm that was pitching the legislature to handle state pension funds. Bruno claims that the probe was instigated by his one-time archenemy, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a claim that may actually be true.
After Gov. Paterson issued his directive that New York state agencies honor out-of-state same-sex marriages, Bruno (who has relatively friendly relationship with Paterson) questioned the directive’s legality and threatened to challenge it in court if necessary. That has not yet happened.