Without admitting culpability in , Assemblyman Vito Lopez announced Tuesday that he would not pursue the position of chairman of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.
"The onslaught of character attacks has put enormous emotional pressures on my family and close friends," Lopez, D-East Williamsburg, said in a statement. "I cannot sit by and allow that to continue. My political history has been to fight through challenges and political conflicts but, for the sake of loved ones and the Democratic Party, it is important that I take this action."
Despite pressure from scores of elected officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Lopez vowed to continue his bid for another term representing the 53rd Assembly District, which covers parts of Williamsburg and Bushwick.
"I have never sexually harassed any staff and I hope and intend to prove in the coming months the political nature of these accusations," he wrote.
Borough president Marty Markowitz expressed relief over Lopez's decision.
"Now we must unite as a party and move quickly to find a successor with just over two months to go before this November’s important election to re-elect President Barack Obama to a second term," Markowitz said in the statement. "In addition to overseeing the largest Democratic party organization in a county that is not its own city, the new chair will face the task of reforming and reinvigorating the party in Brooklyn and making the Kings County Democratic Committee the pride of the Democratic Party across the nation."
After six years with Lopez as its head, the future of the Brooklyn Democratic Party seemed very much in doubt.
According to the New York Observer's Politicker blog, several possible names have been suggested for the top job, including District Leader Frank Seddio, Councilman Lew Fidler and Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, D-Fort Greene.
The choice of a successor could be complicated by the fact that the leader of the county Democratic Party cannot simultaneously hold city office, which may rule out Fidler and Seddio, who is running for the Council seat left vacant by the termed-out Fidler in 2013.
Update, 3:38 p.m.: 52nd Assembly District Leader Jo Anne Simon reacted to today's news regarding Lopez's decision to step aside at Democratic Party chairman:
"In the wake of Vito’s most recent transgressions, many of my friends and supporters—and even some people I don’t always agree with—have urged me to run for County Leader. I believe it is time for a woman to head the KCDC. A woman can bring a desperately needed perspective to a position that has been badly tarnished and in need of a complete overhaul if our Party is move forward."