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Barclay Replaces Kolb As NY Assembly GOP Leader

NY Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay
Karen DeWitt

The minority party Republicans in the New York state Assembly have a new leader. Will Barclay, from the Syracuse area, replaces Brian Kolb, who resigned after being charged with drunk driving on New Year’s Eve. 

GOP members, who hold less than one third of the total seats in the Assembly, spent less than an hour in a closed door meeting Tueday to elect Barclay as their new leader. The 51-year-old attorney, who comes from a prominent Syracuse family, followed his father's footsteps into state elected office in 2002. Douglas Barclay was a State Senator for 20 years before being named by former President George W. Bush as ambassador to El Salvador. 

Barclay says New York faces a lot of problems, including dissatisfaction by some over the state’s new bail reform laws, that end most forms of cash bail. Barclay says it needs to fixed.  

“I would prefer to put a bill in and stop it for year, but obviously we are open to amending it in any way,” said Barclay. “We also have millions of people leaving New York State, we have a $6 billion shortfall. So we have huge issues facing New York.”  

The police report for Kolb released Tuesday shows the former Assembly Republican leader had a blood alcohol content twice the legal limit, and that Kolb told the tow truck driver that his wife was driving, saying “You know how women drive.”  

Barclay says he is “saddened and disappointed” by his predecessor’s actions. 

“I think it’s unfortunate,” said Barclay. “He’s going through some very tough times.”  

He says Kolb did the right thing, though, by putting the Assembly Republican Conference first, and resigning his leadership post. Kolb, who is still serving in the Assembly, did not attend the Tuesday meeting.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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