State Senator Rich Funke won't seek re-election in 2020

Dec 17, 2019

Credit Sen. Rich Funke's office / YouTube

Republican State Sen. Rich Funke announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election to the 55th State Senate District.

Funke made the announcement on YouTube, saying he wanted to decide when it was time to leave office.

"I also believe in term limits, so I will end my time in elected office next year on my own terms," Funke said in a YouTube video released Tuesday morning.

Funke retired in 2012 after a long career at WHEC-TV, and moved to politics.  He was elected in 2014 when he unseated incumbent Ted O'Brien; he won re-election by beating Democrat Jen Lunsford, who is running for the seat again. Democrat Samra Brouk has also announced her candidacy. 

Funke pointed to accomplishments during his tenure in his YouTube announcement, including record school aid, the expansion project at Rochester General Hospital, funding to Special Olympics for adaptive sports, and the Farm to Food Bank tax credit for farmers.

"These laws may not be big or flashy, but nobody should go to Albany to be a showhorse. You should go to Albany to be a workhorse for your community," Funke stated.

Funke's decision not to run in 2020 makes him the eighth GOP state senator to not seek re-election. Last week, Joe Robach said he would not seek re-election to the 56th State Senate District, a seat he's held since 2003.

The Senate was led by Republicans for most of the past century, until the 2018 elections gave Democrats a decisive 40-seat majority out of 63 posts.

Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan, speaking at the State Capitol earlier this month, said he expected even more Republican senators to leave after next year.

And Flanagan said announcements are coming now because the political season begins even earlier next year. For the first time, primaries of state elected offices will be held in June instead of September.  

“’Tis the season,” said Flanagan. “We are in a jump-started position because of the political calendar.”

Flanagan said he intends to field credible candidates to hold the Republican seats.

Democratic Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has said she expects Democrats to pick up at least three more seats in 2020, which would give Democrats a veto-proof majority of 43 senators.

Here's Funke's announcement: