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Back in February, Steve Flanagan, a decades-long Republican activist and founder of the Conservative Society for Action, perhaps the largest tea party group in New York state, announced a conditional campaign for the Fourth State Senate district.

Flanagan said he would run if 83-year-old incumbent Owen Johnson decided to retire, as had been rumored for several years.

Johnson waited until the deadline for filing petitions passed this week, then announced his retirement.

Which means that GOP party leaders will pick the SD-4 Republican nominee -- Flanagan was not mentioned as a possibility in the Newsday story.

Flanagan is not happy about the knife in his back, below.

Flanagan prides himself, above all, in organizing the first rude Town Hall protest against a Democratic Congressman, Tim Bishop, NY-1, on June 22, 2009.

Flanagan is the guy in the red shirt and black jacket at the beginning of the video.

Plus, he's been a Republican committeeman for 22 years in Brightwaters and West Islip, a Reagan patronage hire (doing PR for the FAA's Eastern Region office), and a volunteer in scores of Republican campaigns.

Despite all that, Flanagan is mostly identified in Suffolk County as the CSA's leader, and the GOP establishment in his home county evidently does not want to nominate a tea party extremist for a rare open State Senate seat.

The lipolitics blog today notes that Flanagan "is not happy about the timing."

lipolitics found this on Flanagan's Facebook page:

OWEN JOHNSON JUST ANNOUNCED HE’S RETIRING! Note that this announcement was kept secret until the day after nominating petitions were delivered. The timing of this announcement is concerning. More on this later.
Flanagan may try to rally his few dozen activists (out of an alleged 5,000 CSA members) to get him the nomination, or organize a write-in campaign in the general,

But he must be smarting from the way Johnson and Suffolk GOP leaders successfully conspired to keep a high-profile tea party leader off a potential primary ballot.  

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