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Little seeking leadership of Senate tourism panel

ALBANY - State Sen. Elizabeth O'C. Little, R-Queensbury, says she wants to chair the Senate Tourism Committee.

With the GOP having officially seized control of the state's upper house, Republican senators are jockeying for leadership positions.

Little is no exception.

Little said Monday she's seeking the chairmanship of the committee because she represents a Senate district largely driven by a tourism economy.

"I'm beginning to look more favorably on asking for the chairmanship of tourism," she said. "Our area is so dependent on upon it and it seems to get the short end of the funding stick."

Under the Democratic majority, Little has been the ranking Republican on both the Senate Tourism Committee and the Local Government Committee.

The post would give Little even greater sway over deciding on funding for influential entities in the area like the state Olympic Regional Development Authority.

"I do have a leadership position, but sort of at the bottom rung," she said. "I'm looking to do more of that."

Little has drafted a memo to incoming Majority Leader Dean Skelos seeking not only the top tourism post, but also a seat on the influential Finance Committee.

Syracuse lawmaker John DeFrancisco is currently the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee. He made it a habit to challenge Democratic Finance Committee Chairman Carl Kruger.

Several retirements will bump Little up in the Senate GOP hierarchy.

Skelos spokesman Mark Hanson said this week that no concrete choices for committee chairmanships have been made.

"You're a little ahead of the game," he said. "Senator Little has done an outstanding job in a number of areas and we'll be determining that as we go forward."

With Democratic Sen. Suzi Oppenhiemer's victory over Republican challenger Bob Cohen in Westchester County, Republicans are expected to hold a 32-30 Senate majority come January.

The majority will give the GOP its only statewide power base and allow the party to drastically influence gubernatorial appointments and the state budgeting process.

Little called the GOP Senate takeover a blessing for upstate. She said that after two years primarily in the minority, Senate Republicans may be more agreeable to Democratic bills than they have in the past.

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