Queens Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, the lone remaining challenger to Assemblyman Carl Heastie to succeed Assemblyman Sheldon Silver as speaker, issued a statement this afternoon congratulating her Bronx colleague on securring sufficient support to lay claim to the leadership post, but also said she would have “preferred” a vote on Feb. 10, as the Democratic conference originally agreed.

“I did not drop out of this process even as many reported various vote totals and withdrawn candidacies because I think, in this crisis, it is essential that all members of the state Legislature examine our rules and look closely at proposals for reform and openness,” Nolan said.

“We announced last week that we would have a more open discussion about who would lead our conference and I think, with the challenges we are facing, we needed to stick to that decisions. Indeed, I would have preferred a vote on February 10 which would have allowed for discussion and review of proposals for reform and perhaps have allowed some new rules to go forward in tandem with the election of a new Speaker.”

In her statement Nolan didn’t officially end her bid to be speaker, as three men before her – Manhattan Assemblyman Keith Wright; Brooklyn Assemblyman Joe Lentol and Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, of Rochester – did last week in the face of Heastie’s seemingly unstoppable momentum.

But she admitted she does not have the votes to win this race, which would have made her the first woman speaker in New York history, and congratulated Heastie on the historic nature of his victory. (He’ll be the first African American to hold the position).

“I am as aware of the historic nature of Assemblyman Carl Heastie’s candidacy as I am of my own,” Nolan said. “I believe that I have put at least a scratch in the glass ceiling for women. I congratulate Assemblyman Heastie and I understand the joy that his election will bring to all communities of our state. I offer both Assemblyman Heastie and Majority Leader Morelle my support and willingness to work hard for the people of New York.”

In a subsequent conversation with reporters down at the state Capitol, Nolan officially announced she is dropping her challenge to Heastie, clearing the way for his election as speaker. She also informed the media that some of her Democratic colleagues are now pushing for an even earlier vote on Heastie that would take place at midnight tonight. Silver last Friday announced he would be resigning the position effective 11:59 p.m.

If that’s the case, then Morelle won’t even be able to claim the title of “interim speaker” for just a few hours.

Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan statement on speaker bid. by liz_benjamin6490