An Archival Interview With Late NYS Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno | WAMC

An Archival Interview With Late NYS Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno

Former NYS Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno
Credit WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

A titan of Capital Region politics has died. Former New York State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno succumbed to cancer at age 91. The Republican from Rensselaer County was Majority Leader from 1994 to 2008. 

Bruno’s tenure ended in controversy, facing criminal trials over mixing public and private business. In a legal saga that stretched for years, Bruno was convicted on corruption charges in a decision later overturned by an appeals court. In 2014, he was ultimately acquitted on the last of the felony charges.

Today, Bruno’s name adorns a minor league baseball stadium in Troy – just one example of the high-profile business development he heralded in the Capital Region. Over his time in government, Bruno was known as one of the “three men in a room” as he battled with several  governors and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver over often late budgets.

The news was first reported by the Times Union.

On Twitter, Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin called Bruno a “true warrior and fighter for all of us.”

McLaughlin, a Republican who served in the New York State Assembly from 2011 to 2017, thanked Bruno for his “guidance, mentorship and sage advice.”

“He would call with advice and encouragement and I will miss him as will all of NY,” McLaughlin wrote on Twitter.

New York State Republican Committee Chair Nick Langworthy said in a statement: “It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I share the passing of former New York State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. There aren’t adequate words to encapsulate Senator Bruno’s life and legacy, but simply put, he was a giant. He represented all of the qualities you could ask for in a leader: charm, smarts, toughness and an unabiding passion for getting things done--not just on behalf of the people in his district, but for all New Yorkers. ‘Uncle Joe’, as he was so affectionately called by those who knew and worked with him, was a true man of the people and he never forgot where he came from. He was as successful in business as he was in politics and he always brought his boxing spirit, good nature and wit to every challenge. He lived his life with purpose and gusto, and his legacy on behalf of New York and our Republican Party will never be forgotten. Erin and I offer our deepest condolences to Kay and Joe's children Joseph, Susan, Kenneth, Catherine. May he rest in eternal peace.” 

Republican State Senator George Amedore of the 46th District called Bruno a “great friend & mentor.”

“I’m grateful for his friendship and guidance throughout the years,” Amedore said on Twitter. “His remarkable career and contributions have left a lasting legacy, here in the Capital Region and throughout the state. My prayers are with his family & loved ones.”

Glenville Republicna State Senator Jim Tedisco, a former state Assembly Minority Leader, said in a statement:

“I’m very saddened to learn of the news this morning of the passing of an incredible icon of the Capital Region and New York State, my former legislative colleague, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.  New York State and our area has truly lost a giant when it comes to public service.”

“Senator Bruno was a dynamo and an incredible fighter for our area who delivered time after time for the people he represented because he would never give up and he never surrendered – he was the definition of a happy warrior.”  

“When I served as the Assembly Minority Leader and he was Senate Majority Leader, I saw, firsthand, what a tenacious fighter he was for his district, the members of his conference, and for our state as a whole. My deepest condolences and prayers go out to Senator Bruno’s family and friends. May he Rest in Peace.”

Added current Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, "Few lawmakers have accomplished as much as Sen. Bruno achieved during his time in Albany. We have lost a true giant in state government, whose wisdom and tenacity will be greatly missed and unlikely to be seen again. From my family to his, I offer my deepest condolences.”