Sen. George Maziarz, a powerful western New York politician, said tonight that he won’t seek re-election after serving in the Senate since 1995.
It was a surprising move for Maziarz, 61, R-Newfane, Niagara County, and leaves Senate Republicans with another seat to try to retain in November as they try to win a majority.
Maziarz, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, represents a sprawling western New York district that stretches from Niagara County into western Monroe County.
“It is no secret to my family and close friends that I have been considering retirement from the State Legislature for the last five years,” Maziarz said in a statement at 10 p.m. “And as I geared up for another long campaign season, I realized I just did not have the passion and commitment that I have had in the past to see it through.”
Maziarz will finish the remainder of his term, which runs until Dec. 31.
Maziarz’s decision comes after he was believed to be under investigation by the now-defunct Moreland Commission for potential abuse of his campaign cash.
City & State reported in May that Maziarz doled out more than $140,000 in campaign funds over a six-year period without identifying what exactly he purchased.
Maziarz told Gannett’s Albany Bureau after the report that his spending was all documented and followed existing laws.
“Everything that was required to be reported was reported,” he said.
Republicans have shared power in the Senate with a five-member Independent Democratic Conference. But the IDC split from the Republicans after the legislative session last month and vowed to work with Democrats and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to oust Republicans in the November elections.
Maziarz will leave Senate Republicans with four open seats that they’ll need to retain in November to have a chance at a majority. They would also need a win a seat from Democrats in order to have the 32 seats necessary to win control in January.
“People will ask me why now and the simple answer is there is never the perfect time to step away,” Maziarz said.
Here’s his full statement:
“It is no secret to my family and close friends that I have been considering retirement from the State Legislature for the last five years. And as I geared up for another long campaign season, I realized I just did not have the passion and commitment that I have had in the past to see it through.
“People will ask me why now and the simple answer is there is never the perfect time to step away. I had the honor of following the late John Daly into the State Senate. I remember him telling me when he left the Senate it was simply time for the next generation of leaders in the Legislature. After nearly two decades in office, I fully understand what he meant and feel that way today.
“My second daughter gets married this summer and that is a much bigger priority for me than another grueling campaign. My family has sacrificed enough for my public service through the years and I cannot ask for any more.
“To the people of Niagara, Orleans and Monroe counties who I have had the pleasure to represent since 1995, I extend my heart felt appreciation for your continued support. I always told people that being your Senator was the greatest job in the world, one I dedicated myself to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We accomplished great things and I did my best to help my constituents with any problem…big or small. Thank you for giving a kid from North Tonawanda the chance to fulfill his dream of serving in the State Senate.”