Longtime Republican New York state Senator Betty Little announced today that she will not run for re-election in 2020. As WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports, Little is the second Republican in a week to make such a move.
New York’s 45th Senate district is the largest in the state at 6,400 square miles, which is bigger than the state of Connecticut. Its nine-term state Senator Betty Little said Thursday 2020 will be her last year in the chamber. “I really can't say enough about what an honor and real real privilege it has been for me to be able to do this. But as difficult as this day is, and it's it's actually more difficult than I thought it would be, it's time. And so I will not run for reelection in November. But I will still be here until December 31. So some are mistaking that that I'm quitting today and I'm not. I just believe that it's time.”
The Republican first made her announcement in Glens Falls and then traveled to Plattsburgh to tell her constituents about her decision not to run. She thanked supporters and talked about legislation she has successfully passed, including five Constitutional Amendments she says benefit the Adirondacks. “I'm proud of the work that we have done and mostly proud of the constituent service and the accessibility that I think has been our trademark. And I'm so grateful because it's amazing the people I've met and the things that are going on in this district.”
Little was first elected in 1986 to the Warren County Board of Supervisors. In 1995 she won a special election to the state Assembly. In 2002 she ran for and won the state Senate seat that opened with the retirement of Senator Ronald Stafford. She contemplated retiring ahead of the 2018 election. “This time I truthfully was one way one day, one way the next day. And somebody asked me what was it that really made you decide? And I said, well, the day I went for groceries at Hannaford and I left my wallet phone in the grocery cart. And it was two hours later before I realized I didn't have it. I said that is a sign. And I just think that it's time to step aside. But I have a whole year and I have a lot to do.”
Clinton County Treasurer Kimberly Davis, a Democrat, announced in May that she is running for the Senate seat. She says the dynamics of her campaign haven’t changed Little’s announcement. “There's always been talk if Senator Little was going to retire. And so I had certainly a strategy if she was going to be my opponent or if anyone else. So I certainly will say it will be easier. She would have been a formidable opponent. But I've been committed to this race regardless of who I was going to run against because it was really running for this seat, running to be the representative for the North Country in the majority in Albany.”
Senator Little said one reason she is announcing her retirement now is because the St. Lawrence County Republican committee is meeting to consider candidate endorsements. Republicans have an enrollment advantage in the district.