Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle announces candidacy for Congress
Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, D-Irondequoit, made it official Monday morning at a news conference held at Local 13 of the Plumbers and Pipefitters in Rochester.
He is a candidate for Congress in the 25th District, the seat left vacant with the recent death of longtime area Rep. Louise Slaughter.
Morelle pledged to honor the legacy and continue the work of the late Louise Slaughter, who he said mentored him in his early days.
"I went to see one of the leading Democrats in the area to get advice. We talked a bit about the challenges and rewards inherent in public service. And near the end of the conversation she rendered her verdict on me. 'Honey,' she said, 'you should run for the Monroe County Legislature.' "
Among those expressing support for Morelle was Assemblyman Harry Bronson, D-Rochester, who himself had been mentioned as a possible contender for that congressional seat, and comments also from Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, whose name also has come up when talk of the 25th District seat has arisen.
At the announcement, Warren noted that it is known that she and Morelle have had political disagreements in the past, but she says, “Today, we stand united for a common cause.”
Also supporting Morelle's run were Slaughter's daughter and son-in-law Robin and Mike Minerva. Robin said coming to support Morelle would be what her mother would have wanted.
"My mom would have wanted me to get dressed and get out of the house and come support Joe. He's ben like family to us since the early '80s. You know my mom never wanted to give up that seat. She couldn't imagine anybody else in her congressional seat, but if anybody was to do it, I'm sure she would have loved if it was Joe."
Morelle has been in the state Assembly since 1990, after serving six years in the Monroe County Legislature. He has been majority leader of the Assembly since 2013.
Another Democrat, a political newcomer, Andrew Gilchrist recently announced he is attempting to get on the ballot.
In recent days, Brighton Town Board member Robin Wilt and former TV journalist Rachel Barnhart have indicated they are exploring a run for the Democratic nomination for that congressional seat. Rochester school board president Van White also has expressed interest. On Monday, Wilt told WXXI News that she will be a candidate, saying that she feels she can best represent the progressive agenda championed by Louise Slaughter. Deputy Rochester Mayor Cedric Alexander also had been mulling over a possible run, but has decided not to run for the seat. He also is not endorsing anyone right now.
Previously, local neurosurgeon Dr. James Maxwell said he is a candidate for the Republican nomination for that seat.
Candidates have until April 12 to get 1,250 signatures from party members. The federal primary date is June 26.
It is not yet clear when there will be a special election to fill the remainder of Louise Slaughter’s term, which runs until the end of this year.