With Rochester's Joe Morelle hoping that New York City residents will soon learn how to say his name (hint: that last "e" isn't silent), there are plenty of rumblings from city lawmakers who want to keep the Assembly speakership in the five boroughs.

"I do believe that emphatically, that it is a New York City position,'' said Harlem's Keith Wright, who is throwing his support behind Carl Heastie of The Bronx.

"Historically, it is a New York City position. Go back 40, 50, 60 years, the speaker has always come from one of the five boroughs,'' Wright said.

Forgive Wright for forgetting about Long Island's Perry Duryea, a Republican who was last in charge of the Assembly during the Watergate era; you have to go back to 1911 to find a Democratic speaker – the great Daniel Frisbie -- from outside the five boroughs.

Looking at the geographic base of the Democratic Assembly, it's clear that Morelle's fight is decidedly uphill; only 34 of the 106 districts are north of The Bronx while 64 of the conference members reside in the city. Even if Morelle were able to convince all of the upstate members and eight Long Islanders to vote for him, he'd still need to convince about a dozen city lawmakers to vote for him – which seems unlikely.

Morelle's only real hope is that two other city candidates – Cathy Nolan of Queens and Brooklyn's Joe Lentol – stay in the race and divide the vote. But with Heastie's strong support from black and Latino lawmakers, Lentol and Nolan may simply be jockeying for the best position in the post-Sheldon Silver era.

It's par for the course that the selection of the next Assembly speaker is as opaque as Albany gets. But don't be surprised if some white smoke is seen billowing over The Bronx -- and the borough gets its first speaker in the history of the state.


Bob Hardt