Silver considers making LI's Sweeney Assembly majority leader

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) considered Assemb. Robert Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) considered Assemb. Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) for majority leader. (June 28, 2012) Photo Credit: James Escher

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ALBANY - Assemb. Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) is one of the leading candidates to become the second-most powerful member of the State Assembly.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) is considering Sweeney, along with Assemb. Joe Morelle (D-Rochester), for majority leader. The occupier of the post runs the Assembly floor for Silver, marshaling bills and votes on key issues and monitoring the pulse of rank-and-file Democrats.

"Assemblyman Sweeney is a well-respected member and is one of several members under consideration," Silver spokesman Michael Whyland said Friday.

Sweeney couldn't be reached for comment.

The spot is being vacated by Assemb. Ron Canestrari (D-Cohoes), who didn't run for re-election.

Silver would name a No. 2 after he is formally re-elected as speaker by Assembly Democrats, slated for Jan. 9, the day Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo delivers the State of the State address that kicks off the 2103 legislative session.

Typically, with a New York City lawmaker serving as speaker, the majority leader post goes to an upstate lawmaker to provide geographic balance -- which would point to Morelle, who has been long considered the favorite among some Capitol insiders.

Sweeney, 63, first elected in 1988, is dean of the Suffolk County delegation and considered a loyal Silver ally. He is currently chairman of the Assembly environmental conservation committee.

The last Long Island legislator to serve as majority leader was John E. "Jack" Kingston of Nassau County, who held the post from 1969 to 1974 -- when Republicans controlled the Assembly and Perry Duryea Jr. of Suffolk County was speaker.

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