In Facebook and Twitter
posts this morning, former WHEC anchor Rich Funke has confirmed he plans to run for State Senate.
Funke is making an official announcement at 10:30 a.m. at the Perinton Community Center. (Because of the impending snowstorm, the community center is closing at noon.)
So far, Funke hasn't said what Senate seat he'll seek and what party he'll run under, though most likely he'll run as a Republican and challenge Democrat Ted O'Brien for the 55th Senate District Seat.
[UPDATED 1 P.M.] During a press conference this morning, Funke announced that he will challenge sitting Democrat Ted O’Brien for the state Senate’s 55th District seat. He’ll run as a Republican.
Funke said that the skills he used and developed as a broadcast journalist would serve him well as a representative of the district. Reporters are trained to tackle complex issues by investigating them, talking to as many people on both sides of the issue as possible, to search for truth, and not be swayed by special interests, he said.
“I am not a politician,” he told the crowd gathered at the Perinton Community Center. “I’ve had my career and I loved every minute of it. I’m not interested in going to Albany to be something, I’m going to Albany to do something.”
During his speech, Funke said he wants to see tax relief, an end to unfunded state mandates for local governments, “an equal share of state aid for projects to revitalize our region,” and to cut down on the regulations faced by New York businesses.
In a brief interview after the presentation, Funke criticized O’Brien for voting with downstate Democrats on “virtually everything,” including the SAFE Act. Funke said he doesn't like the way the law was rushed through the Legislature and that, though there are parts of it he likes, he wants to see it repealed. He supports the Second Amendment and is opposed to anything that infringes on the rights of law-abiding gun owners, he said.
He also questioned the wisdom of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s START-UP NY program, which provides substantial tax breaks to businesses to locate on or near SUNY campuses.
The state needs to lessen the tax burden on businesses, he said. And it also needs to stress what the area has to offer: eight colleges, an intelligent work force, and high-tech spinoffs, he said.
“Why we can’t be an attractive place to do business without giving away the store is beyond me,” Funke said.
Shortly after Funke’s announcement, County Legislature Democratic Minority Leader Carrie Andrews issued a statement saying that Funke is “the handpicked candidate of New York's right-wing establishment.” She says he’ll be another vote in the Senate against the Women’s Equality Act and against women's abortion rights.
Funke said he supports laws that protect women’s rights and that ensure they aren’t subject to discrimination or abuse. But he said he opposes late-term abortions and therefore doesn’t support the final plank of the Women’s Equality Act.
Regarding fracking, he said he supports developing natural resources “in an environmentally friendly way,” and says local communities should decide whether they’ll allow fracking.
O’Brien sent out this statement in response to Funke’s announcement:
"In my first term in office, I've delivered tax relief to middle-class families and small businesses, secured investments to create jobs in our community, and fought to clean up Albany and give New Yorkers the government they deserve. I'm proud of my record and am confident that the hardworking men and women of Monroe and Ontario Counties will re-elect me this fall."