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Robert G. Ortt is now an official candidate for the New York State Senate.

The Republican mayor of North Tonawanda, who a few days ago was focused on running the government of a small city, is now cast as a major figure in GOP efforts to retain control the Senate.

He said Tuesday he will seek the all-but-assured nod of the party’s committee on vacancies, following Sunday’s announcement by Sen. George D. Maziarz of Newfane that he will not seek re-election.

Ortt will emphasize his Army service in Afghanistan, providing a glimpse into how he will run his campaign.

“Public service has always been a duty I’ve been proud to fulfill,” he said. “As a veteran, I was proud to serve my country in Operation Enduring Freedom, mentoring the Afghan National Police in Kandahar City. As a civilian, I have the great privilege of serving my community as the chief executive of the City of North Tonawanda. What New York State needs most are leaders who will put service to others first and foremost.”

Ortt, 35, has been mayor of North Tonawanda for 4 1/2 years and has been frequently mentioned as a potential candidate for the State Legislature. He is now expected to become a beneficiary of Albany Republican efforts to regain the Senate with money and campaign help.

First, however, he must face Gia M. Arnold in the September Republican primary before taking on Democrat Johnny G. Destino in the November general election.

email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com