By Lincoln Anderson
As the field of candidates to succeed Sheldon Silver as Assembly speaker shrank, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (D-Greenwich Village) made her feelings known on Twitter Friday.
Hours later, ratcheting up the race’s intensity and the sense that it could soon be over, news came that Silver had officially resigned as speaker — three days earlier than originally expected.
Around 11 a.m. Friday, Glick tweeted, “Morelle out of speaker race — Nolan still in — am I having a flashback to an earlier presidential primary? 1 thing clear — won’t be a white guy.”
Glick was referring to Joseph Morelle of Rochester dropping out of the running Friday, leaving just Cathy Nolan of Queens and Carl Heastie of the Bronx remaining.
As for the “flashback,” she was apparently referring to the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, when she supported Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. Glick told The Villager back then that she was excited to back Clinton, a highly qualified woman, since she felt that for too much of her life she had “voted for mediocre men” for elected office.
Like Clinton, Nolan is a woman, and like Obama, Heastie is African-American. And just as with Obama and Clinton and the presidency at that time, a woman or a black man leading the Assembly would be a historic first.
And, as Obama did in ’08, it looks like Heastie is on track to win the election.
Two other possible candidates for speaker also recently dropped out: Joseph Lentol of Greenpoint Thursday, and Keith Wright of Harlem Wednesday.
Word has it that Wright withdrew after Heastie assured him he would support Wright when he runs for Congress — apparently for Charles Rangel’s seat.
In addition, Assembly member Glick, who represents the Lower West Side, thinks that it’s important to have a strongly pro-choice speaker, as seen in her tweet at 12:21 p.m. Friday: “It would be good for the next speaker to come from the bipartisan pro-choice caucus.”
As Glick explained to The Villager, a lot of members of the Assembly — including Nolan — are on the Pro-Choice Caucus, yet Heastie is not among them.
“Which is not to say that Heastie hasn’t taken pro-choice votes,” Glick added.
“We hope that there will be a discussion of codifying Roe v. Wade,” she explained. “New York eliminated its prohibition on abortion in 1970. Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973. Certain federal protections are not written into New York law, so if a conservative Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, there would be gaps in New York’s law — which we would try to avoid. If Roe v. Wade were struck down, it means all that we’d have to cover New York would be the state law from 1970.”
Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court has become more conservative.
“George Bush put on a bunch of conservatives and we wound up with Citizens United and corporations being considered as a person,” she said.
While admitting that Nolan is “totally a long shot,” Glick stressed, “there are still two candidates.”
In short, Nolan still hypothetically has a chance.
What has Glick ticked off, though, is the fact that Heastie’s support is being built the old-school way, when what had been promised was that the candidates would make presentations before the full Assembly before the vote.
“The old-fashioned way is people are on the phone — and county party chairs, etc., weigh in,” she said. And all of this, according to Glick, is exactly what has been going on, as opposed to the promised openness.
Although the date has been given as Feb. 10 by which the Assembly would elect a new speaker, Glick indicated that the choice, in fact, could happen well before then.
“Oh, absolutely,” she said.
The plan had been that Morelle would take over as interim speaker from Monday through Feb. 10.
The Assembly was scheduled to bo back into session at 2 p.m. Monday, at which time a new speaker could be chosen, Glick said. The selection could also happen Tuesday.
Despite what can be gleaned from her tweets, Glick said she is not supporting any candidate.
“I haven’t committed to anybody yet,” she said. “But obviously I had hoped that we would have a different process. It remains to be seen where I am Monday.”
That said, she did make her preference known to The Villager.
“Carl is a decent guy,” she said. “I just think that Cathy has a much longer record of dealing with significant issues. She’s chairperson of the Education Committee. Education is always a very large part of the budget discussions, and so she has been involved in that for several years.”
Also, Nolan has served twice as long in the Assembly, 30 years to Heastie’s15.
As for Silver, Glick said she spoke to him the night that the Assembly members concluded that there was no option but for him to step down.
She had initially expressed support for Silver after the news of charges against him and his arrest broke last Thursday. Silver, she had emphasized then, seemingly reflexively, was “innocent until proven guilty.”
Longtime members took Silver’s downfall harder, she admitted.
“The longer you’d been there, the longer you knew him — and you felt sad,” she said. “People that hadn’t been there as long were like, ‘Well, that’s bad… .’ ”
Silver will keep his Lower East Side / Lower Manhattan Assembly seat, but would have to relinquish it if convicted of a felony. Facing five federal charges of corruption, extortion and fraud, he is accused of using his powerful influence to illegally obtain $4 million in two separate schemes.
“His intention is to fight because he feels that he’s innocent,” Glick said. “The charges are serious, for sure, and distressing. I’m sure there will be an indictment at some point – but he hasn’t been indicted yet.”