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Silver to leave post as Assembly speaker on Monday

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Karen DeWitt
/
WRVO News
Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle made the announcement that Sheldon Silver will not be speaker starting next week.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will end his long reign as the head of the Assembly on Monday, say the Democratic members of the Assembly who announced they will hold a new election for speaker on Feb. 10.

After two long days of closed door meetings, as Assembly Democrats reacted to the mounting fallout from Silver’s arrest on federal corruption charges, the Democrats now say Silver will leave his post.

But Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, who will serve as interim speaker for about a week, was cryptic when describing how the speaker will actually exit.  

“There will be vacancy in the office of speaker,” Morelle said repeatedly.

He would not answer when asked whether Silver would resign, or whether the Democratic Assembly members would have to vote the speaker out of office.

Morelle says he met with Silver, and the speaker told him that he will “not impede the transition.”

Silver later confirmed that he would “not hinder the process,” but did not say whether he would resign.

An election for a new speaker is set for Feb. 10.

Morelle, who has been viewed as a potential candidate for speaker, says now is not the time for him to make any announcement about a candidacy.

Other potential candidates include Assemblyman Carl Heastie of the Bronx, Keith Wright of Harlem, Cathy Nolan of Queens, and Joe Lentol of Brooklyn. Lentol said earlier in the day that he will not formally announce his candidacy until Silver actually resigns or leaves the office.

“I think I have more to offer than any of the other candidates,” Lentol said. “I expect in the end that I will prevail.”

The announcement by Assembly Democrats that Silver’s 20-year rule will end was a markedly different stance then last Thursday, when the speaker was taken into federal custody in handcuffs. Democrats then said that they would stand by the speaker, but days of relentlessly negative news stories, editorials calling for Silver’s resignation, and public outcry changed that.

Assemblyman Jeff Aubry, of Queens, alluded to those developments. “Events and discussion ensued,” Aubry said.

But Aubry denied that Democrats bowed to outside pressure.

Most of the Assembly Democrats, who were present at Morelle’s announcement, were also tight lipped and did not offer any comment.

The full Assembly will meet in session on Feb. 2.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.