NEWS ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF
ALBANY – Bronx Assemblyman Carl Heastie this morning is tying up the last round of support needed to become the next Speaker of the state Assembly.
For the third time in three days, another of his opponents has dropped out of the running. This morning, Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, a Rochester-area Democrat, announced he was exiting the campaign to support Heastie.
Morelle’s departure follows the same routes taken Thursday by Brooklyn Assemblyman Joe Lentol and the day before by Manhattan Assemblyman Keith Wright.
The sole announced opponent to Heastie is Queens Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, whose support in her own borough was slipping.
While a vote is not scheduled until Feb. 10, there is growing talk that Heastie would be approved as Speaker on Monday when lawmakers next return to Albany. The Assembly on Monday was to have okayed a resolution removing Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was arrested last week on corruption charges, and then start a brief campaign season for his replacement. Lawmakers said the campaign was going to include presentations by the candidates to the full Democratic conference, which has control of the 150-member house.
Morelle’s task, being from upstate in a chamber dominated by New York City Democrats, was always uphill. It’s likely his bowing out now significantly increases his odds of remaining as Majority Leader if Heastie is okayed as the new leader.
“Carl and I have served together and been close friends for 15 years. I have the utmost confidence in his ability to unite our members and move the institution forward. He will have my full support,” Morelle said in a statement.