Assemblyman Joseph Lentol has pulled out of the race to replace Sheldon Silver as speaker of the Assembly just a few days after he threw his hat in the ring.
Lentol (D-Greenpoint) said on Thursday afternoon that he is pulling out of the race because he does not believe he has the necessary support from his fellow Assembly members.
“I look forward to refocusing my attention on the important budgetary and legislative issues that face our state,” said Lentol. “I believe in the democratic process. I know our house will move forward in a positive way.”
In announcing his withdrawal, he said he plans to put his support behind Bronx Assemblyman Carl Heastie.
Lentol and Heastie were two of several Assembly members who stepped up to run for the speaker post. Others include Catherine Nolan of Queens, Joseph Morell, and Keith Wright.
Entering his 22nd term, and his 43rd year in the seat previously held by his father and grandfather, Lentol is the longest-serving Assembly member and was considered a frontrunner in the race to replace the embattled speaker.
Federal agents arrested Silver, a Manhattanite who has held the speaker seat since 1994, on Thursday morning on charges he took $6 million in bribes and kickbacks dating back to 2000. More than $4 million of that amount prosecutors say were directly shady payments, and the other $1.4 million they say was a salary he drew from a personal-injury law firm for apparently doing no work other than exercising his political clout. Silver announced on Tuesday that he would resign from the speaker post but remain in office.
The Brooklyn Democratic Party is set to back Heastie, the New York Post reported on Thursday evening. Earlier in the day, Lentol had declared he had the backing of the Brooklyn delegation to the Assembly, falsely, according to Capital New York.
A vote for the speaker seat is set for Feb. 10.