Why does Gallivan keep declining leadership opportunities?

Senator Patrick Gallivan was elected in 2010, after serving three terms as Erie County Sheriff.

In recent days, Republicans from Upstate and Western New York have been urging Senator Patrick Gallivan to seek the position of Senate Minority Leader.  He has declined, instead preferring Senator Cathy Young, a more senior member of the chamber from Olean.

Upstate Republicans are livid with the party’s downstate leadership, including the stunningly failed Senate Majority Leader John Flannagan, and Ed Cox, who has served as State Chairman since 2009.  Both figures have grown deeply unpopular among party operatives.  Each has resisted calls for graceful and speedy resignations. The regional factions of the party will battle for control of the leadership post in the coming weeks.

But local Republicans are concerned that Gallivan has been declining opportunities for political advancement.  When Rep. Chris Collins had initially agreed to step aside in the 27th congressional district following an indictment for insider trading, Gallivan took his name out of contention for the post — despite holding the most solidly Republican district in Western New York, while facing no Democrat challenger.

At the time, local Republicans presumed that Gallivan had his sights set on a leadership post inside the Senate chamber, where he has accumulated nearly a decade’s worth of seniority.  At 57, observers figured he would rather build on the seniority that he has already earned rather than make the move to Washington.

That’s why it’s so peculiar that Gallivan is now declining an opportunity to lead the Senate Republican caucus, despite the urging of the party’s most influential backers.  Operatives are finding it difficult to decipher his calculation.

One longtime Buffalo-area operative suspects that Gallivan is positioning himself to challenge Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz when he is up for re-election in 2020.  It’s been rumored that Gallivan does not enjoy the weekly drive to Albany.


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