Senate Republicans are facing a potentially long wilderness.
Down as many as 17 seats in the chamber, regaining the majority will be difficult, if not improbable, in one two-year cycle.
Republicans with only a handful of interrupts have held power in the chamber since 1939.
And, with redistricting looming in 2022, Democrats hope that even a fair drawing of the lines could give the party something akin to the near permanent majority Assembly Democrats have enjoyed since the Watergate era.
Republicans this week described a shell-shocked reaction to the loss of eight seats in the chamber, losing five alone on Long Island, once a fortress of Republican power.
Political pendulums, of course, have a way of swinging back — just ask the Democrats who recall the ill-fated 2009-10 majority.
It’s not clear who will lead the Senate GOP during the wilderness years at the moment. Sen. John Flanagan is one of three Long Island Republicans who will be left in 2019 and, reportedly, may be eyeing the Suffolk County executive’s race next year.
Sen. Fred Akshar on paper is an attractive choice to a number of Republicans: He’s young, has a law enforcement background and represents a solidly Republican district in the Southern Tier. But he is apparently not interested in the job of minority leader. At the same time, depending on the absentee ballot count in the 22nd congressional district, Akshar may be viewed as a potential candidate for that district in 2020.
That could leave Sen. Cathy Young, a western New York lawmaker who led the Republicans’ fundraising effort. Young backed Flanagan’s bid for majority leader in 2015 over fellow upstate Sen. John DeFrancisco, who is retiring this year.
But Young would also be the first upstate leader for the Republicans since Joe Bruno held the post for 14 consequential years.