Christine Benedict stepped down from the legislature’s minority leader post approximately two months ago, but she is returning as second in command of the Republican caucus to ease the transition.
Legislature Minority Leader Lee Carman, R-Guilderland, announced Monday, Feb. 3, Benedict, R-Colonie, was appointed as deputy minority leader, along with two new positions within GOP caucus. Carman said Benedict has “tremendous institutional knowledge,” which would be helpful during the leadership transition. She led the caucus for nearly a decade before stepping down.
“There was a concern in the caucus of her stepping down in the middle of (a legislative) term,” Carman said. “In the middle of the term, there are a lot of things going on … because she was the leader, she was handling a lot of that.”
Benedict had said she “wanted to pursue other options” as to why she stepped down, but would not be leaving the “political arena.” Carman was the deputy minority leader for two years before being elected to lead the caucus.
Benedict said she still wants to see “what other options out there” and did not disclose any future plans or prospects.
“I guess I am really tired of people not walking the talk, and that’s really what’s been happening,” Benedict said. “People get in office and they become very comfortable.”
Benedict also said there should be term limits, and she has been impressed with the energy in freshman legislators.
She added Carman is a “great guy” who is “very competent” and an honest person.
Carman also appointed Richard Mendick, R-Selkirk, as fiscal whip of the caucus and Deborah Busch, R-Knox, as the minority whip. Busch is serving her first term on the legislature.
Carman said Mendick has “tremendous knowledge” of the county budget process and fiscal issues.
“As our senior member and as a long-standing member of the Audit & Finance Committee, he has shown an undeniable passion to understand all fiscal matters as they relate to the betterment of our county,” Carman said in a statement.
Carman said Busch was selected based on her “passion to address the toughest issues,” and she has been “very well received” when discussing major issues.
Carman viewed the appointments as strengthening the minority caucus’ unity.
“I’m trying to create more of a consensus within our caucus and trying to have more of a presence in discussing the issues of the county,” Carman said. “If people hear us more and believe in what we are saying, maybe we will pick up more (seats).”
Republicans hold 10 seats in the county legislature, with Democrats holding a wide majority at 29 seats. Benedict said the reduced presence has left them without “a seat at the table.” She is hopeful the party will gain more seats.