ALBANY—For the next two weeks, at least, the New York State Assembly will have an acting speaker who is regarded by business interests as an ally.
Assemblymember Joseph Morelle, who is set to serve as interim speaker until Feb. 10, is widely viewed as a moderate in a chamber that has been a roadblock to the agendas of some business groups during the speakership of Sheldon Silver, whose positions were for the most part conventionally liberal.
Morelle, a Democrat from Rochester, “represents a thoughtful lawmaker that you can go have a conversation with on a specific issue,” said Mike Durant, state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. “You’re not dismissed immediately. For our agenda, that would represent change from what we’ve seen over a vast number of years.”
Morelle is a prodigious fund-raiser, outraising every other Assembly candidate in the last election cycle despite having no opponents. The $585,149 in contributions he received outpaced Silver by nearly $55,000.
Of this money, almost six times as much came from businesses as from unions. Of the nearly $400,000 he received from businesses and their political action committees, nearly a third came from insurance companies or the financial sector, representing businesses he presumably developed relationships with while serving as insurance committee chair. An additional quarter are involved in real estate or health, representing other sectors that have frequent business before his former committee.
Morelle's pretty conservative and Cuomo would love to get him as replacement speaker for Silver.
Business views him as an ally.
He's raised six times as much money from business as labor.
That's enough for me - no to Morelle.
Unfortunately getting the "interim" gig might give Morelle a leg up on getting the job full-time,
He's still considered a long-shot - his closeness to Cuomo and his coming from Rochester do not help him in an Assembly full of Cuomo-haters and downstaters - but watch him very, very closely.
Given how fast things move these days in Albany (Hell, Cuomo just gave his budget address last Wednesday - doesn't that feel like forever ago?), you never know what might happen.