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Eighth state senator announces departure after 2020


State Sen. Rich Funke of the Rochester area is the latest Republican lawmaker to announce he will not seek re-election. Funke joins seven other minority-party senators who say they are moving on to other things after less than a year under Democratic rule in the Senate.

In a video, Funke announced that 2020 will be his last year in the Legislature.  

“I will not seek re-election to my seat in the state Senate next year,” Funke said. 

Funke joins other Republican senators from western New York, the Capital Region and Hudson Valley and the North Country who are either not seeking re-election or are running for a congressional seat. Many of their districts are increasingly blue, and they might have faced a tough race.

“I will end my time in elected office next year on my own terms,” said Funke, who added he believes in term limits for legislators.

The Senate was led by Republicans for most of the past century, until the 2018 elections gave Democrats a decisive 40-seat majority out of 63 posts.

Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan, speaking at the State Capitol earlier this month, said he expected even more Republican senators to leave after next year.

And Flanagan said announcements are coming now because the political season begins even earlier next year. For the first time, primaries of state elected offices will be held in June instead of September.  

“’Tis the season,” said Flanagan. “We are in a jump-started position because of the political calendar.”

Flanagan said he intends to field credible candidates to hold the Republican seats.

Democratic Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has said she expects Democrats to pick up at least three more seats in 2020, which would give Democrats a veto-proof majority of 43 senators.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.