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Morelle to step down as democratic chairman

Rochester, N.Y. -- For nine years, Joe Morelle has worn two political hats: running Monroe County's Democratic Party and serving in the state Assembly. He said being named majority leader in Albany means he can no longer do both.

"I would have done this for years and years," he said. "But when I took on the responsibilities as majority leader, I took them seriously."

In 2005, Morelle sought to bring unity to a divided party. 

"We will heal whatever divisions we have," he said at the time. 

He leaves chairmanship of a party better able to recruit candidates, raise funds for its races and win.

He is particularly proud of Democratic wins in traditionally Republican-held towns of Pittsford, Fairport and Irondequoit.

Ironically, his departure raised questions about another party division -- one regarding the most recent race for mayor in the City of Rochester.  Though Morelle backed another candidate, Lovely Warren went on to win. 

Morelle deflected speculation he was being asked to resign. 

"I spoke to the mayor a little while ago. She was incredibly kind," he said. "She has been very supportive since her election. I pledged to her my continuing support as majority leader and member of the state delegation."

Morelle said it is premature to suggest who might replace him. State Senator Ted O'Brien has held the post in the past. 

Other names include Greece Democratic Party leader Dave Garetson, City Director of Planning Mitch Rowe, and Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle.

"There are a lot of really talented people, and I have no doubt the party will remain in capable hands," said Morelle.

A new chairman will be chosen by party leaders in September. 

Morelle will serve through that date.

 
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