Joseph D. Morelle (/məˈrɛli/ mə-RELL-ee; born April 29, 1957)[1] is an American politician serving as the U.S. representative for New York’s 25th congressional district since 2018. A Democrat, he was formerly a member of the New York State Assembly representing the 136th Assembly district, which includes eastern portions of the City of Rochester and the Monroe County suburbs of Irondequoit and Brighton. Speaker Sheldon Silver appointed him as majority leader of the New York State Assembly in January 2013 and Morelle served as acting speaker in the Speaker’s absence.[2] He was elected to the United States House of Representatives for New York’s 25th congressional district in November 2018 following the death of longtime Representative Louise Slaughter.

Early life and education

Morelle was born in Utica, New York, to Gilbert and Juliette Morelle. Gil was a Korean War veteran, a heating and cooling technician and a lifelong Plumbers and Pipefitters Union member. Joe and his three siblings grew up Catholic, on Vayo Street in Irondequoit, where he attended Eastridge High School.[3] He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from SUNY Geneseo[3] in 1986.[1]

In his early years, Morelle was a sales manager for a drycleaning and laundry business.[4] He got his political start working for State Senator John D. Perry as a constituent services representative in Rochester and legislative aide in Albany.[5]

Political career

County legislature

Morelle, a Democrat, made his first foray into elective politics at age 24 when he ran for a seat in the Monroe County legislature.[6] He failed to unseat the incumbent on the first try, but prevailed in the 1983 election.[7] He was reelected once before running for the New York State legislature.[8]

State legislature

In 2009 with Garth Fagan, James Alesi, and Nazareth College president Daan Braveman

Marching on Independence Day in 2011

In 2014 with Kathy Hochul

Morelle was first elected to the State Assembly in 1990.[3] He ran uncontested in the November 2008 general election[9][10] and won the November 2010 general election with 61% of the vote.[11][12]

During his tenure in the state legislature, Morelle authored more than 200 laws, including major reforms to the workers compensation system, laws to require carbon monoxide detectors in one- and two-family homes, toughen regulations governing charitable organizations, protect the elderly and infirm who live in nursing homes or receive home based health care, and raise senior citizens’ real property tax exemption. He sponsored bills to exempt veterans from certain state licensing fees, protect their grave sites, and assist them with the civil service application process.[citation needed]

In January 2001, Morelle was appointed chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Sports Development. He worked with area leaders to develop Rochester as a center for tourism and the arts in Western New York.[citation needed]

In addition to the Tourism Committee, Morelle’s standing committee assignments included Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry; Higher Education; Local Governments; and Libraries and Education Technology. At his request, the Speaker created the Subcommittee on Manufacturing in order to give New York’s manufacturing sector a greater voice in state government.[citation needed]

In 2005, Morelle issued a report, “Creating a State of Innovation: Unleashing The Power of New York’s Entrepreneurial Economy”, detailing New York’s economic decline, particularly upstate, and offering numerous policy recommendations to reverse this years-long trend.[citation needed]

In 2005, Morelle was elected chair of the Monroe County Democratic Committee,[13] and held this position until 2014.

Campaign violations

In 1990, an acting state Supreme Court justice ruled that Morelle fraudulently obtained several signatures on nominating petitions to qualify him for an independent line on the 1990 ballot (New York permits cross-filing in some circumstances) during his run for the State Assembly.[5] Morelle remained on the ballot and won the election.[14] He later admitted that he allowed family members to sign the petitions for the individuals whose names appeared on them and did not personally witness the signatures, both of which are illegal.[14] In 1991 he was charged with seven misdemeanor counts of violating state election law.[14] Morelle denied intentionally violating the law, but accepted a plea bargain in which he was found guilty of two counts of disorderly conduct.[14] He was sentenced to 32 hours of community service and a $25 fine.[14] Because disorderly conduct is a violation of the law, rather than a misdemeanor or felony, Morelle’s plea enabled him to avoid having a permanent criminal record as a result of the incident.[14]

U.S. House of Representatives



After the death of Representative Louise Slaughter, Morelle announced his candidacy for New York’s 25th congressional district; he won the Democratic Party’s nomination on June 26, 2018.[15] On November 6, he ran in two elections: a special election for the last two months of Slaughter’s 16th term, and a regular election for a full two-year term. He won both, defeating Republican nominee Jim Maxwell.[16]


Morelle ran for reelection to a second full term, winning the Democratic primary against challenger and Brighton town councilwoman Robin Wilt.[17] He defeated the Republican nominee, businessman George Mitris,[18] in the general election.[19][20]


Morelle was sworn in on November 13, 2018.

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Electoral history

Democratic primary results[23]
Democratic Joseph Morelle 16,245 45.63%
DemocraticRachel A. Barnhart7,00319.67%
DemocraticRobin Wilt6,15817.30%
DemocraticAdam McFadden6,10317.14%
New York’s 25th congressional district special election, 2018
DemocraticJoseph Morelle 141,290 58.29% +2.10%
RepublicanJim Maxwell101,08541.71%-2.10%
Total votes242,375 100.0 N/A
Democratic hold
New York’s 25th congressional district, 2018
DemocraticJoseph Morelle147,97954.8
IndependenceJoseph Morelle4,5851.7
Working FamiliesJoseph Morelle4,5751.7
Women’s EqualityJoseph Morelle2,1050.8
TotalJoseph Morelle159,24459.0
RepublicanJim Maxwell91,34233.8
ConservativeJim Maxwell17,7816.6
ReformJim Maxwell1,6130.6
TotalJim Maxwell110,73641.0
Total votes269,980 100.0
Democratic hold
New York’s 25th congressional district, 2020[19][20]
DemocraticJoseph Morelle187,50353.9
Working FamiliesJoseph Morelle14,5844.2
IndependenceJoseph Morelle4,3091.2
Total Joseph Morelle (incumbent) 206,396 59.3
RepublicanGeorge Mitris115,94033.4
ConservativeGeorge Mitris20,2585.8
TotalGeorge Mitris136,19839.2
LibertarianKevin Wilson5,3251.5
Silly PartyCharles Baldo (write in)1.00
Total votes347,919 100.0
Democratic hold

Personal life

Morelle lives in Irondequoit with his wife, Mary Beth.[3] They have three children.[1]


  1. ^ a b c “Assembly Member Joseph D. Morelle (NY)”. Project Vote Smart. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  2. ^ McKinley, Jesse; Kaplan, Thomas; Craig, Susanne (January 27, 2015). “Sheldon Silver to Be Replaced as Speaker of New York State Assembly”. New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d “Assembly District 132, Joseph D. Morelle: Biography”. New York State Assembly. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  4. ^ “Morelle Narrowly Wins Over Ogden”, Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, pp. 8A, November 11, 1990
  5. ^ a b Hand, Jon (January 28, 2015). “Timeline on Joseph Morelle’s career”. Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, NY.
  6. ^ “GOP Keeps Control of County Legislature”, Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, pp. 2A, November 4, 1981
  7. ^ “Democrats Gain 2 Seats in Legislature”, Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, pp. 3A, November 9, 1983
  8. ^ “Morelle Defeats His Challenger”, Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, pp. 3A, November 4, 1987
  9. ^ “Election Results 2008: New York State Legislature”. The New York Times. 2008. Archived from the original on May 11, 2012.
  10. ^ “Assembly Election Returns: November 4, 2008” (PDF). New York State Board of Elections. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 23, 2012.
  11. ^ “Election Results 2010: New York State Legislature”. The New York Times. 2010. Archived from the original on June 15, 2012.
  12. ^ “Assembly Election Returns: November 2, 2010” (PDF). New York State Board of Elections. 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 18, 2013.
  13. ^ “Morelle Officially Seeks Chair”, Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, pp. 2A, May 27, 2005
  14. ^ a b c d e f Venere, Emil (January 23, 1992). “Morelle Pleads Guilty in Election-Law Violations”. Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, NY. p. 1B – via
  15. ^ “Assemblyman Joseph Morelle to run for Louise Slaughter’s congressional seat”. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  16. ^ “Joe Morelle defeats Jim Maxwell for Louise Slaughter’s seat”. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  17. ^ “Robin Wilt for Congress: Campaign Announcement”. Retrieved November 16, 2019 – via Facebook.
  18. ^ Coltin, Jeff; Lyskawa, Madeline; Stark-Miller, Ethan; Bolton, Emma (November 8, 2019). “Who’s threatening House members in 2020”. City & State New York. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  19. ^ a b “November 3, 2020 General Election Certification” (PDF). New York State Board of Elections. September 17, 2020. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  20. ^ a b “2020 Election Results”. New York State Board of Elections. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  21. ^ “Caucus Members”. Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  22. ^ “Members”. New Democrat Coalition. Archived from the original on February 8, 2018. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  23. ^ “Monroe County Board of Elections Canvassing Book 2018” (PDF). Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  24. ^ “New York Election Results: 25th House District”. The New York Times. January 28, 2019.

External links

New York State Assembly
Preceded by

Member of the New York Assembly
from the 132nd district

Succeeded by

Preceded by

Member of the New York Assembly
from the 136th district

Succeeded by

Preceded by

Majority Leader of the New York Assembly
Succeeded by

Political offices
Preceded by

Speaker of the New York Assembly

Succeeded by

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York’s 25th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by

United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by