Criminal Justice

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb steps down

His resignation came three days after a Dec. 31 arrest for alleged drunk driving.

Assemblyman Minority Leader Brian Kolb speaks in news conference at the Capitol, 2016

Assemblyman Minority Leader Brian Kolb speaks in news conference at the Capitol, 2016 Mike Groll/AP/Shutterstock

State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb announced late Friday afternoon that he is stepping down from the leadership post he has held for the past decade, following a Dec. 31 drunk driving arrest.

The incident came at an awkward time for the GOP, which is currently attacking Democrats for passing bail reform that Republicans claim releases dangerous criminals pre-trial. When the Rochester-area Republican crashed a state-issued SUV – and benefited from the new law’s elimination of cash bail for charges such as the ones Kolb faces – some of his colleagues called on him to resign his leadership post. (Kolb is not retiring from the Legislature.)

“I have always put the needs and concerns of our conference ahead of my own,” Kolb said in a Jan. 3 statement. “On a personal level I have already begun the process of seeking professional help to heal, process and fully address the challenges that I, and my family, currently face.” 

The Legislature will begin its next session on Jan. 8 and, in the meantime, the Assembly minority will begin the process of choosing a successor. Possible candidates include Minority Leader Pro Tempore Andy Goodell of Western New York and Assistant Minority Leader Pro Tempore Edward Ra of Long Island. 

Until one of them takes the reins, just who is in charge of the GOP conference is unclear, according to Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, who was the first member of the conference to publicly call for Kolb’s resignation. Republicans will likely discuss a permanent replacement when they meet in Albany next week at the start of session. For now, some are just relieved that their New Year’s Day political nightmare came to an end. “I think it’s to his credit that he stepped down,” Lalor said of Kolb.