Morelle is Third Candidate to Drop Bid for Assembly Speaker
Bronx's Carl Heastie expected to win the speakership within next two weeks
A third candidate to lead New York's Assembly dropped out Friday and threw his support to the Bronx lawmaker who appears to have the job locked up.
Majority Leader Joseph Morelle said he's confident Assemblyman Carl Heastie can unite legislators and move the institution forward as Assembly speaker. They've discussed at length how to advance the best interests of New Yorkers "by making the New York Assembly more inclusive and member-driven," he said.
Heastie said they've spoken daily over the past week about their shared commitment to restoring the Assembly's integrity. He has asked Morelle to remain in the No. 2 post as majority leader "and play a greater role in that capacity," he said.
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan of Queens remains the only other candidate to replace Speaker Sheldon Silver, who is scheduled to vacate the office Monday.
The Assembly's majority Democrats decided Silver needs to step aside following federal charges that he took nearly $4 million in kickbacks over a decade in return for his influence on legislation and state grants. Silver denies the charges.
Morelle followed Assemblyman Keith Wright of Manhattan and Joseph Lentol of the Bronx in dropping out and backing Heastie, a legislator for 14 years and former financial analyst for the New York City comptroller. Heastie also heads the Bronx Democratic County Committee.
Lentol said Thursday that Heastie already had most, if not all, the 76 votes needed to become speaker of the 150-seat Assembly.
"Joe and I, along with our very talented colleagues in the Democratic conference, will work hard every day to build consensus, enact meaningful new reforms, and create opportunity for all New Yorkers," Heastie said in a prepared statement. He has declined requests for interviews about his prospects and plans.
Reformers among the Assembly Democrats, who have a two-thirds majority, have proposed more transparency and rank-and-file input in decisions including leadership selection, staffing and money in a chamber better known for backroom decisions and top-down control. They proposed starting with a more open vetting process and have candidates answer questions about those and other possible reforms.