By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- Senate Republicans are turning to an Olean senator to help them maintain their partial control of the Senate in the 2014 elections.
Sen. Catharine Young, first elected to the Senate in 2005, becomes the first woman to hold the position as chairwoman of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, Senate GOP leader Dean Skelos announced this morning. Young replaces Sen. Thomas Libous, a politically savvy Binghamton Republican, who is stepping down to deal with ongoing health issues surrounding his on-again, off-again battles with cancer.
The GOP holds partial control of the Senate thanks to a deal struck with four breakaway Democrats. While Skelos ultimately holds control over the political doings of the umbrella Senate GOP campaign, Young will be involved in everything from fundraising to candidate recruitment should any more Senate Republicans retire.
Though she isn't known as a major fundraiser herself, Young has quietly built up a campaign bankroll of $516,000 for her own re-election efforts. That's a sizable war chest for an incumbent in one of the poorest areas of the state and one of the cheapest -- advertising-wise -- in which to campaign.
Young is chairwoman of the Senate's housing committee and previously served as chairwoman of the agriculture committee. She first served in the Assembly beginning in 1999 before moving down the hall, and into a sprawling Southern Tier district, in the Senate. Her district includes Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, as well as part of Livingston County.