Well, knock us over with a feather.
Joseph L. Bruno, the Senate majority leader and New York State’s highest-ranking Republican, said Monday evening that he would not seek re-election in November, after a 32-year career in the Senate.
His announcement startled people in the Capitol, many of who have come to view Mr. Bruno, a former Army boxing champion who still spars for the cameras, as almost indestructible at the age of 79.
I remember when he was running for the Senate for the first time, in 1976. Carter was gaining on Ford in the polls and I was a rookie pastor. Joe Bruno was roaming a local VFW Hall filled with Republicans one night, shaking everybody’s hand and introducing himself. He must have shaken my hand six or seven times. I think all I heard him say that night was “Hi, I’m Joe Bruno. Hi, I’m Joe Bruno.” Who knew that he’d go on to become one very effective Senate Majority Leader?
Still, it has been a very tough year for him, with the loss of his wife to Alzheimer’s disease, an ongoing federal investigation into his business relationships, and his dwindling (down to one) majority. And besides, he’s 79, which means he’s entitled to retire if he wants. I’d want to think so if I were 79.
And as The Albany Project points out tonight, there are a number of “old hands” who have been in place a long, long time on the R side of the Senate. The AlPro is “tasting” the flipping of the Senate majority in November.
I had a conversation some twenty-five years ago with a colleague, speculating what life would be like in Albany if the Senate flipped. We realized that, in all probability, not much would change. I stand by that.
Lest we think that a solid blue NY is cause for celebration, it’s worth recalling that our Governor — the one who can’t bring himself to utter the dreadful “t” word — was once upon a time a stalwart progressive Senator and champion of the less-than-priveleged.
The cool thing about being in the minority party and therefore powerless is that you get to be so principled. But once you are in a position where you actually make decisions, well —
If somebody or somebodies own New York, then one best pay one’s respects, ya know?
So, come January, we shall see.